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North Dakota Recreational Legalization Initiative on the November Ballot

Michigan, Utah and Missouri all have marijuana-law reform initiatives on the ballot in November. North Dakota just joined them.

On Aug. 13, North Dakota’s Secretary of State Alvin Jaeger approved the North Dakota Marijuana Legalization Initiative for the Nov. 6 ballot. On July 9, Legalize ND submitted 17,695 signatures (4,500 more than required). Jaeger accepted 14,637.

The measure is purposefully vague; it doesn’t call for specific amounts that would be legal or how to create a commercial market for cultivation, processing, testing and sales. That’ll be up to the legislature, says Legalize ND’s Cole Haymond:

«This bill is by far the most progressive yet most conservative marijuana legalization bill that will be on any ballot across the country. We leave our bill wide open so the legislature can do their job—regulations, taxes, zoning, whatever.»

Republican Gov. Doug Burgum predictably opposes the measure: «I encourage voters to educate themselves on the specific wording and far-reaching implications of all ballot measures. My personal stance against full, unfettered legalization of recreational marijuana has not changed.»

There’s a precedent for such an initiative in North Dakota: In 2016, voters passed Measure 5, which legalized medical marijuana by a 64% margin. That bodes well for recreational legalization in the Peace Garden State, even if the 2016 law has yet to be implemented.

Possession is currently a misdemeanor punishable by maximums of 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine. All other marijuana offenses are felonies. In addition to medical marijuana, hemp is legal in North Dakota. The state borders Canada, which has legalized cannabis federally; sales begin there in October, a month before the U.S. elections.

Read the full text of the measure here.

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