Name: North Dakota Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative
Ballot Number: Measure 5
Front Group: North Dakotans for Compassionate Care
Backer: Marijuana Policy Project
Key Provision: A patient or caregiver living 40 miles from the nearest dispensary can grow up to eight plants.
Dust off your old DVD of Fargo because North Dakota finally has a chance to vote on to legalize medical marijuana in November. North Dakotans for Compassionate Care, with support from the Marijuana Policy Project, led the successful effort to win ballot placement by gathering more than 18,000 petition signatures.
Comprising a massive chunk of the Great Plains, North Dakota is home to only 750,000 people. Current marijuana laws in the Peace Garden State are extremely harsh; possession of more than one ounce of flowers is treated as a felony. Simply ingesting hash or concentrates is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Possessing any amount of cannabis oil is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Measure 5 is a fairly complete law that includes an initial set of regulations to create a medical cannabis system. It calls for a network of non-profit cultivators and dispensaries, along with modern laboratory testing. Patients would register with the state Department of Health, and any licensed physician could recommend cannabis therapy. Once registered, residents would be able to possess up to three ounces.
Qualifying conditions include: cancer and its treatments, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS, PTSD, Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s, fibromyalgia, spinal stenosis, chronic back pain, neuropathy, glaucoma, epilepsy, cachexia, wasting syndrome, severe debilitating pain, intractable nausea, seizures, severe and persistent muscle spasms and multiple sclerosis.
The proposed law comes with a system for caregivers, who may aid up to five individuals. Only when patients live more than 40 miles away from the nearest dispensary is home cultivation of up to eight plants allowed.
Measure 5 proposes subsidizing access for low-income patients. Because health insurance companies have yet to cover the cost of medical cannabis, it’s important that state systems find ways to serve the less fortunate. The measure could also open the door to Native American tribes accessing the compassionate use program.
Neighboring Montana and Minnesota already have limited medical marijuana laws. North Dakota also shares a long Northern border with Canada, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to enact national legalization very soon.
“Why should our neighbors have to leave their families, their hometowns, their home state to become medical refugees for their children or themselves?” asks North Dakotans for Compassionate Care’s Anita Morgan.