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Election 2022: North Dakota marijuana legalization guide

Published on September 13, 2022

Measure 2, North Dakota’s cannabis legalization initiative

On Aug. 15, North Dakota’s secretary of state confirmed that voters will consider a statewide adult-use marijuana legalization measure on this fall’s Nov. 8 ballot.

Read the full 19-page proposal here: North Dakota’s Measure 2.

Is this medical or adult use legalization?

Adult use (recreational). If Measure 2 passes, marijuana would be legal for all adults age 21 and older.

What’s the current law?

North Dakota voted to legalize medical marijuana in 2016, but dispensaries did not open their doors until 2019.

The state decriminalized the possession of up to a half ounce of marijuana in 2019.

North Dakota continues to punish residents severely for selling weed: The state considers any transaction, no matter the quantity, a felony. The charge carries a maximum $20,000 fine and 3 to 10 years in prison. A sale within 1,000 feet of a school carries a potential 20-year sentence.

North Dakota marijuana laws

What the initiative would do

If passed, Measure 2 would l​egalize the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, four grams of cannabis concentrate, and up to 500 mg of edibles for adults. 

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The state would be required to establish a framework for the regulation of growers, manufacturers, retailers, and testing labs. Adults could legally grow up to three plants at home. Public consumption would remain illegal.

The measure does not require or facilitate the expungement of cannabis-related criminal records.

How do I vote in North Dakota?

This is important: Verify your registration status and ID validity right now, while there’s still time to bring both up to date.

Vote in person, on paper ballots, on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. Polling stations will open between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. across the state. They will all remain open until 7:00 p.m. Click on this link to find out where to vote in North Dakota.

Remember to bring your valid ID to the polling station. Learn more about your options for valid ID here.

Absentee voting is allowed. Check with the state website to see how it’s done.

North Dakota will vote on cannabis legalization in November

What’s required to pass legalization?

In North Dakota, an initiated measure must only gather a majority of votes cast in a statewide election. In other words, 50.01% approval will pass it.

Possession would go into effect 30 days after the election, on December 8, 2022.

How much could I possess?

Adults could possess up to one ounce of cannabis, up to four grams of cannabis concentrate, and up to 500 milligrams of cannabis in an infused product.

When could I start growing my own?

Homegrow would become legal 30 days after the election, on Dec. 8, 2022.

How to set up an indoor weed homegrow for under $500

When would weed stores open?

The measure requires state regulators to finalize program rules by Oct. 1, 2023. Stores would open at an undefined time afterwards.

Could I smoke a joint in public?

No. Smoking cannabis in public would be penalized by a fine, but not arrest.

Will it pass? Here’s what the latest polls say

A poll conducted in July 2022 concluded that only 39% of residents support legalization. According to the poll, 18% of voters “don’t care either way,” and 43% said no. This is unusual for an adult-use legalization measure. Most statewide legalization measures head into election season with at least 50% support from poll respondents.

Legalization initiative sponsors

New Approach North Dakota has spearheaded the legalization campaign. The related New Approach Advocacy Fund has donated more than $300,000 to the campaign in the form of in-kind contributions. The Marijuana Policy Project has also thrown its support—and $50,000 in the form of in-kind contributions—behind the campaign.

Legalization initiative opponents

No groups have announced their formal opposition to Measure 2. The Greater North Dakota Chamber successfully opposed a statewide adult-use legalization measure in 2018, but has not yet taken an official stance this year.

Would cannabis stores be licensed?


How many weed stores will be allowed?

Measure 2 would only permit 18 stores to sell marijuana, including the state’s eight existing medical marijuana dispensaries.

Any equity or small-business licenses?

The measure does not include explicit language around equity or small-business licenses, but it does limit individuals or organizations from holding an ownership interest in more than one manufacturing facility, more than four dispensaries, or more than one dispensary within a twenty-mile radius of another dispensary.

Can new businesses apply for a license?


Could local towns or counties ban stores?

Yes, the initiative includes an opt-out provision.

Would marijuana be taxed?

Yes. Customers would pay a 5% cannabis excise tax, plus any applicable local taxes.

Where would marijuana tax revenue go?

The measure does not include any specific language around the use of marijuana tax revenue, beyond the cost of administering the program itself.

What about the expungement process?

The measure does not require or facilitate the expungement of criminal records of non-violent offenders.

Has North Dakota voted on marijuana before?

Yes. Adult-use legalization appeared on the state’s 2018 ballot. It lost by a margin of 41-59.

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Max Savage Levenson
Max Savage Levenson
Max Savage Levenson likely has the lowest cannabis tolerance of any writer on the cannabis beat. He also writes about music for Pitchfork, Bandcamp and other bespectacled folk. He co-hosts The Hash podcast. His dream interview is Tyler the Creator.
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