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Senate committee studying recreational marijuana legalization measure

A Senate committee is looking at a measure to allow adults to buy and use small amounts of marijuana for recreational purposes.

The legal limit would be one ounce of marijuana.

The bill has already passed the House. The sponsor – Rep. Jason Dockter (R-Bismarck) – told the Senate Human Services Committee he did it to head off a potential initiated measure.

"A lot of time, we're reactive in government," Dockter said. "I wanted to do something proactive."

Dockter said like alcohol, the state has issues with all types of drugs, including marijuana.

"Why not put a bill in to try to have regulations that make it safe and as restricted as possible, while still allowing it?" Dockter said. "If we don't do it now, it will come through initiated measure."

Tom Tracy of Jamestown is a retired educator. He appeared before the committee to oppose legalization.

"Don't we have enough problems with alcohol?" Tracy said. "Now we want to legalize drugs. Not the 'North Dakota Way.'"

Tracy suggested that educational groups be organized to work against any initiated measure. Committee members told him the Legislative body takes no formal positions on initiatives, unless it’s proposed by lawmakers.

Under the measure – HB 1420 – a person over 21 can use marijuana at home – not in public. And the sale and manufacture of the product would be handled through state approved “grow centers” and “compassion centers," used for medical marijuana. The measure would allow the state Health Department to establish up to 7 grow centers, and 18 compassion centers.

The committee did not take immediate action on the bill.


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