North Dakota is not messing around when it comes to the legalization of marijuana. It was just two years ago that voters approved the herb for medicinal purposes. According to a new poll, there is now a distinct possibility that the people of the Roughrider State could legalize it for recreational use when they hit the ballot next month during the midterm election. But it’s going to be a close one.
Next month, voters in North Dakota will have to decide whether or not to support a proposal (Measure 3) aimed at legalizing a recreational cannabis market.
The gist of the suggested deal is that it would allow adults 21 and older the right to possess, use and grow marijuana while creating an automatic expungement process for those people with a cannabis-related conviction. As of now, 51 percent of the population is prepared to buy into this scheme, while 36 percent oppose.
But unlike marijuana legalization measures pushed through in other states, this one is unique in the way that it leaves the cannabis industry open to operate without regulatory controls. David Owen, who chairs the Measure 3 sponsoring committee, calls it a “wonderfully written” proposal, while people like Bob Wefald, a former state attorney general, who leads a group opposing the initiative, says it could be a “bad, bad law.”
There is concern that the measure will give way to a scene that is not even close to being considered acceptable by one of America’s most conservative states. However, the lack of a regulatory system would launch “free market capitalism,” allowing farmers to grow both hemp and marijuana, which would be great for the state’s economy, Owen told the Grand Forks Herald.
If Measure 3 gets pushed through, North Dakota would be home to one of the most liberal cannabis laws in the country. While the lack of regulations might seem strange, it could be becuase marijuana legalization in other parts of the nation comes with much stricter rules. However, Measure 3 would not be set in stone. It is likely that the State Legislature would step in after its passage and fix what some are calling a “poorly written” proposal. That is what happened after the voters approved a statewide medical marijuana program back in 2016.
“We took something that was infinitely worse—as far as how it was written—infinitely worse than the full legalization measure, and we still made it work, and we can do the same thing with this measure,” said State Representative Rick Becker of Bismarck, who says he will support Measure 3 at the polls.
Unfortunately, due to the state’s interference in medical marijuana, not a single patient has been given access. That system is not expected to be up and running until 2019.
But to get a recreational marijuana law on the books in North Dakota, the poll finds that younger people must show up to vote.
“Passage of Measure 3 is greatly dependent upon the voters under the age of 50 voting in at least their historical percentages,” The Kitchens Group wrote in a polling memo. “If the electorate is skewed toward the older, more conservative voters, passage could be problematic.”