Marijuana decriminalization fails; second initiative possible
Medical marijuana, yes – decriminalizing marijuana, no.
The actions of the North Dakota Legislature thus far seem to be along that line.
There are several bills to clarify and expand the state’s medical marijuana laws, following voter approval of medical cannabis in 2016. But a measure that would have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana possession failed on the House floor.
"Recreational marijuana did not pass in the statewide election this past fall," Pollert said in an interview with Prairie Public. "I think the vote showed we're not ready to go down that road."
The vote against the decriminalization bill was 47 to 43.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Shannon Roers-Jones, said the House vote was "disappointing."
"I had been working hard with all of the parties to make sure we had a really good bill," Roers-Jones told KFGO Radio. "And to see it go down was hard."
Roers-Jones said she worked with the Attorney General's office, Gov. Burgum's office, with prosecutors, with criminal defense attorneys, to make sure the bill was strong.
"It was designed to bridge that gap between full legalization and nothing," Roers-Jones said.
Under the bill, a person having up to an ounce of marijuana would face a $200 fine, but it would not go on a person's record.
Meanwhile, supporters of legalizing recreational marijuana say they are preparing another initiated measure.
"The Legislature is not willing to listen to just about anybody when it comes to marijuana legalization," Legalize ND spokesman Dave Owen told KFGO. "This was a bill introduced by a Republican attorney, supported by a Republican legislator who is a former sheriff supported by a former judge who led the campaign against the legalization initiative, and it was supported by Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem."
Owen said he has met with a Fargo attorney who agreed to help write the new ballot language.