Thanks to activist-led petition drives, North Dakota will officially vote on full cannabis legalization this November. Enough signatures were collected by activists to qualify the ballot initiative that would allow adults 21 and over to legally consume marijuana recreationally, said Secretary of State Al Jaegers.
Dave Owen was part of the group that got medical marijuana on the ballot two years ago in North Dakota but told the Bismarck Tribune “that its implementation got bogged down in too many details, leading to delays involving the Legislature.” Patients still don’t have access to medical marijuana, according to local media.
Owen is the chairperson for Legalize ND, the group that sponsored the recreational marijuana initiative. Though the group submitted 17,695 signatures submitted to the state’s office, only 14,637 signatures qualified as valid. However, that surpassed the necessary figure of 13,452 signatures for the measure to make the ballot.
The North Dakota ballot measure is somewhat radical, as it does not set limits on the amount of marijuana citizens can possess or grow, unlike the legislation found in states that have legalized recreational cannabis. In addition, the measure has framework that would approve the commercial cultivation and legal sales of cannabis. Owen told the Bismarck Tribune that he wrote a “very simple” measure that would be “implementable on day one,” partly in response to the current holdup over medical marijuana in the state.
“This (measure) is basically a referendum,” Owen said. “Do you want recreational marijuana? Yes or no.”
Erik Altieri, who serves as executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law (NORML), “applaud[ed] the hard work and dedication from the campaign and countless volunteers” who made the ballot initiative possible.
“Marijuana legalization is no longer a regional or partisan issue,” Altieri said. “Well over 60 percent of all Americans support ending our nation’s failed prohibition and I expect North Dakota voters to send shockwaves across the country this fall when they join the growing contingent of states who have chosen the sensible path of legalization and regulation over prohibition and incarceration.”
In June, a poll found that a plurality of North Dakotans supported full cannabis legalization, with 46 percent voting in favor and 39 percent voting against. The key constituency this November will be the 15 percent of North Dakotans who were undecided about full legalization at the time.