medical marijuana | Prairie Public Broadcasting

medical marijuana

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.

Because marijuana is still listed by the federal government as a “Schedule One” drug, those who are in the medical marijuana business have to deal with only cash.

Banks face losing their federal charters if they would allow deposits. And the banks could be criminally charged.

The Independent Community Bankers Association of North Dakota is hoping to change that.

"We have some 40 states that have some form of approved marijuana," said ICBND president Barry Haugen. "As an all-cash business, that's  proving to be unsafe."

North Dakota’s fourth medical marijuana dispensary opens next week.

It’s in Bismarck – and opens Tuesday.

And there are more dispensaries to come.

"We have four additional locations within the state -- Jamestown, Devils Lake, Minot and Dickinson," said Health Department Medical Marijuana division director Jason Wahl. "They have entities who are moving forward in the registration process."

Wahl said the next dispensary to likely open will be Jamestown.

Minot State University

It’s the first of its kind in North Dakota, and only the second such program in the country.

Minot State University will offer a major in “medicinal plant chemistry.”

Think medical cannabis.

Minot State Chemistry Professor Chris Heth said most often, marijuana is either smoked or eaten.

"And then you get everything in the plant," Heth said. "That's not always desirable."

THC is the main chemical that provides the psycho-active effects. Heth said there are other compounds that may do some useful things, or do nothing.

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Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Legislators on an interim committee overseeing the implementation of the Medical Marijuana law say they’re hearing frustration from their constituents about how long the process has been taking.

But the head of the State Health Department’s Medical Marijuana division said other states have experienced this kind of time lag from when the measure was passed to when the product becomes available.

The Bank of North Dakota remains the only state-owned bank in the US.

And Bank President Eric Hardmeyer said he still gets contacts from other states and political subdivisions about it.

"They ask how it works and why it works," Hardmeyer said.

Hardmeyer said what’s driving it is the growing number of states that have legalized either medical or recereational marijuana. Hardmeyer said states are now trying to deal with revenues coming in from this cash-only business.

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