Medical marijuana supporters are not happy with a bill that essentially re-writes the initiated measure passed by voters in November.
Legislative leaders had said the wording of that measure did not conform to North Dakota law – and changes were needed to bring it into compliance. They first passed a bill to delay the implementation until a new set of regulations could be drafted.
"On (January) 16th, it was portrayed as a housekeeping measure," said Anita Morgan of Fargo, one of the sponsors of the initiated measure. "I think it has turned into an estate sale."
Morgan saids she objects to the higher fees and lower dosages contained in the bill. She also doesn’t like a portion of the bill defining a “minor” as being 21 years of age or less.
"What is a young soldier came home, injured and with PTSD?" said Morgan. "He or she has to get permission from his mom or dad to use medical cannabis as a treatment option."
Morgan said that puts an undue burden on patients.
And Morgan saids the proposed new rules limit the allowable forms of cannabis to oils and pills – meaning smoking is not allowed.
Sen. Judy Lee (R-West Fargo) chairs the Senate Human Services Committee, which is studying the bill. She called the bill a "phased-in approach" to medical cannabis – and she said North Dakota is moving much faster than other states when it comes to implementation.
"They can have it for two years," Lee said. "If we find there is a need to expand it to additional products, you bet."
Lee said incremental implementation is actually safer than doing it all at once.
"We can't do everything at once, or it'll all be bad," Lee said.
If the bill is to pass, it will need a two-thirds vote in both houses. Morgan said her group will be working on making some changes – to satisfy the intent of voters who approved the measure.