Recreational measure could be headed for the November ballot

Jul 9, 2018

Members of "Legalize ND" turn in petitions to the ND Secretary of State 7/9/18
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Supporters of an initiated measure to legalize recreational marijuana in North Dakota have submitted petitions to the Secretary of State to get the measure on the November ballot.

The group needs 13,452 valid signatures. The group submitted petitions with around 18,700 signatures.

"We did something that I don't think a lot of people thought was possible," said "Legalize ND" chairman David Owen. "Not only did we do it, we exceeded it."

Owen said his group received a lot of positive responses from those who signed.

"People thought it was great for ag," Owen said. "They're seeing marijuana as a potential new cash crop."

Owen said some people told the group, while they don't use marijuana themselves, they see value in getting rid of criminal records for some people, so they can function in society.

"We had people saying, 'I can't get a student loan because of marijuana,'" Owen said. "It doesn't make sense to spend $41,000 a year incarcerating people, when we can send them to UND for four years for $32,000."

Owen said he senses there's a lot of support for this.

"We haven't had any real opposition," Owen said.

One of the more controversial parts of the measure is the issue of “expungement.” But Owen said that’s misunderstood by some.

"We're not releaing people from prison early and we're not changing sentencing," Owen said. "All we're doing is the second you leave prison, your record is sealed, assuming you are not incarcerated with 30 days."

Owen said sealing records is not controversial.

"We already have expungement for amounts under 28.35 grams," Owen said. "It's just an expansion of an existing policy."

The group is now planning campaign strategy for the November election.