Fargo lawmaker still working to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana

Mar 12, 2019

A Fargo legislator says she continues to work on a measure to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

That, after the House killed her bill that would have just imposed a fine for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

Rep. Shannon Roers-Jones (R-Fargo) said the proposal came from discussions she had over the measure to legalize recreational marijuana. That initiative failed at the ballot box in November.

"There's a lot of people that I talked to who said, 'I don't use marijuana, but I'm going to vote for Measure 3 because I'm tired of people having their lives ruined with criminal records from a small amount of marijuana," Roers-Jones said in an interview.

The bill she introduced would have imposed a $200 fine for the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. That is now a class “B” misdemeanor. It failed 47 to 43 in the House. But she said Sen. Diane Larson (R-Bismarck) – the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee -- has added an amendment to another bill, which makes the fine $500 for possession of a half-ounce or less.  A second offense would be an infraction, and the third would be a “B” misdemeanor.

"It's a step in the right direction," Roers-Jones said. "I'm still hopeful we may have some other options for taking a slightly larger step. But I'm happy to have that first step underway."