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The leader of an initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in North Dakota is confident his group will have enough signatures to get the measure on the November ballot.

David Owen of Grand Forks chairs “Legalize N-D.” His group needs 13,452 valid petition signatures by July 6th.

Owen said petition circulation began January 6th. He said the group has already collected between 1400 and 2000 signatures.

"We are on schedule," Owen said in an interview. "And we'll be on the November ballot, assuming everything goes well."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakotans could see two different measures on the ballot next year to legalize recreational marijuana for adults.

One comes in the form of a state Constitutional amendment. The other would be a statute.

"It is time cannabis is taken out of the failed war on drugs," said Jody Vetter of "ND For Freedom of Cannabis” – the group that is pushing for the Constitutional change. She told the Legislature’s interim Judiciary Committee the one-page measure calls on the Legislature to write the law to regulate the commercial sale of cannabis in North Dakota.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

When the 2019 Legislature passed a bill to lower the penalties for first time marijuana offenders – specifically for possession of marijuana – there was also an effort to try and “expunge” the records of those first time offenders, if they were free from subsequent offenses.

“It can reflect and make it more difficult for people to get professional licenses or jobs,” said Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. But he told the Big Muddy Bar Association meeting in Bismarck, no one really knows what “expunge” means.

Supporters of a proposed initiated Constitutional measure to legalize recreational marijuana in North Dakota have had the measure okayed for circulation.

The wording and format was approved by Secretary of State Al Jaeger.

Because it is a Constitutional measure, supporters need 26,904 valid signatures. And if they want the measure on the June 2020 ballot, they would have to submit signatures by Feb. 10th.

A group wants to place a measure on the ballot that would end the prohibition on marijuana in North Dakota.

The group has submitted a proposed initiated measure to amend North Dakota’s Constitution.

"It really is time," said Jody Vetter of Bismarck, the steering committee chairperson. "We can't keep arresting our citizens, even though it is an infraction -- it's still on your record. It just needs to stop the stigma."

Recreational marijuana measure proposed

Jul 12, 2019

Marijuana measure                                     7-12-19 ddt

There’s another attempt to legalize recreational marijuana in North Dakota.

A group has submitted a proposed Initiated Constitutional measure to allow recreational marijuana.

The measure limits individuals to 12 plants. It would require a license to sell marijuana products, and it prohibits the sale of marijuana products to anyone under the age of 21.

The issue of “expungement” – that is, erasing the arrest and or conviction of someone who committed a crime – has become an issue in the campaign to legalize recreational marijuana.

The measure would require the expungement of all marijuana-related convictions.

At the same time, a Fargo legislator is working on an expungement bill.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Former district judge Bob Wefald – one of the spokespeople against the measure to legalize recreational marijuana – says he would support legislation to decriminalize possession of small amounts of pot.

State Rep. Shannon Roers-Jones (R-Fargo) recently said she would introduce such a bill, if measure 3 is defeated.

"It would be small amounts of marijuana," Wefald said at a Bismarck news conference. "Not truckloads."

Wefald said he's especially concerned about young people who have experimented with marijuana.

ND Association of Counties opposes Measure 3

Oct 10, 2018

The North Dakota Association of Counties is opposing Measure 3 – the measure that would legalize recreational marijuana.

Association executive director Terry Traynor said the group took that step at its convention this week in Bismarck.

"We don't think North Dakota is ready (for recreational marijuana)," Traynor said in an interview.

Traynor said the measure is flawed.

April 20th is a widely recognized celebration of marijuana - and on 4/20, the representatives from Legalize ND are hoping to educate North Dakotans on their work to legalize recreational marijuana in the state.

Josh Dryer is campaign manager for Legalize ND.