medical marijuana

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The director of the State Health Department’s Medical Marijuana division says the plan is to have medical marijuana available in North Dakota by the end of the calendar year.

Jason Wahl told the Legislature’s Administrative Rules committee – a big hurdle was the approval of the new administrative rules governing it.

"The Department is committing to implementing this program as quickly as it can," Wahl told the Committee. "It needs to insure the program is implemented in a well-regulated manner."

North Dakota is one step closer to implementing medical marijuana: the state has awarded a contract for a medical marijuana tracking system.

The system is called BioTrackTHC, which includes a seed-to-sale tracking system, as well as a registration system. Medical Marijuana Division Director Jason Wahl says this will help the state effectively monitor all activities of manufacturing and dispensing facilities.

People who want to start manufacturing facilities or “compassion centers” for medical marijuana in North Dakota will have difficulty getting a loan from a bank or credit union – and will also face barriers if they want to deposit money from medical marijuana sales into a bank account.

"Marijuana is still considered an illegal substance, said North Dakota Bankers' Association president Rick Clayburgh.

The federal government still considers it a "schedule one" drug.

File photo

The state Health Department has established eight regions for medical marijuana dispensaries.

The eight regions are based on the state’s largest cities -- Bismarck, Fargo, Grand Forks, Minot, Dickinson, Jamestown, Williston and Devils Lake.

A dispensary can be located within a 50 mile radius of each of those cities.

Medical Marijuana Division interim director Jason Wahl said the requirements for a dispensary are outlined in state law.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The state Health Department has been holding a series of public hearings around North Dakota on the new rules for medical marijuana.

Voters in 2016 approved the use of medical marijuana. But the 2017 Legislature rewrote the measure to bring it into compliance with other state laws. Now, a package of administrative rules has been written to cover it.

A total of six public hearings are being held around the state. Written comments on the new rules must be received by December 26th.

Initiative would legalize recreational marijuana in ND

Nov 29, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

In 2016 – North Dakota voters approved medical marijuana.

Now another group wants to legalize “recreational pot.” That group has submitted a proposed initiated measure to Secretary of State Al Jaeger.

"It's time to end prohibition," said steering committee spokesman Josh Dryer of West Fargo. "There's no reason for it to be illegal -- nor should there ever have been a reason."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The state Health Department has submitted proposed rules for the Medical Marijuana Program to the Legislature’s Administrative Rules Committee.

But the availability of medical marijuana is still months away.

The interim director for the Health Department’s Division of Medical Marijuana – Jason Wahl – said the rules basically deal with the “compassion centers” – which will manufacture the medical marijuana – and the dispensaries, where people can come to purchase the product.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The state Health Department says it has received 97 letters of intent from people interested in growing or dispensing medical marijuana.

The department had asked for letters of intent, just to gauge the interest.

In about a month or so, his division will start taking formal applications. Those applications have to be accompanied by a $5000 non-refundable application fee. That was passed by the 2017 legislature.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The state Health Department says it has so far received 9 letters of intent from people interested in submitting a proposal to become a registered “compassion center” for medical marijuana.

Under state law, a compassion center is a medical marijuana grower or manufacturing facility, or a dispensary. The law says up to two manufacturers and eight dispensaries can be established.

Its sponsors call it “landmark legislation.”

The state Senate has passed a bill that rewrites the medical marijuana initiated measure – to make sure the state can regulate it. The bill sets out the allowable forms medical marijuana can take – including smoking. It sets limits on the amount of allowable THC in the product. And it works to make sure it isn’t used for recreation.