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North Dakota Medical Marijuana Supporters Make Last-Minute Plea to Voters

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A group pushing to legalize medical marijuana in North Dakota is making a last-minute advertising push thanks to a surprise donation from a national organization.

North Dakota Compassionate Care, which is sponsoring an initiated measure on the state’s ballot, quickly organized the ad campaign after receiving $15,000 last week from Drug Policy Action, said group spokeswoman Anita Morgan. DPA is the political arm of a group that advocates for the overhaul of drug laws.

“All of a sudden, poof, we get this money,” Morgan said Thursday. “We’ve wanted to tell the stories of real North Dakotans who would experience real benefits from medical marijuana and now we can. They are people, not a measure.”

The proposed law would allow qualifying patients to possess up to 3 ounces of medical marijuana for treatment of about a dozen medical conditions, such as cancer, AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS, glaucoma and epilepsy. North Dakota is one of four states that will decide medical marijuana ballot measures next week.

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The promotion includes one television ad and five online ads with testimonials from North Dakota residents who want the option of using marijuana to help alleviate chronic pain. The TV spot features Sheri Paulson, a Galesburg woman who says doctors believe pot will ease some of her suffering from multiple sclerosis.

“North Dakotans take care of one another,” Paulson says, fighting back tears. “That’s why I’m asking you to vote ‘yes’ on Measure 5.”

The TV ad was first aired Thursday morning during the Today Show and Good Morning America. It is scheduled to run during hockey games between the University of North Dakota and University of Minnesota on Friday and Saturday, and during Saturday’s football game between North Dakota State University and Youngstown State University.

No money has been raised in opposition to the measure. The North Dakota Medical Association has come out against it, saying there’s no way to ensure safe usage of marijuana.

“Hopefully people can see through the anecdotal stories and look at the evidence and facts behind Measure 5,” said Courtney Koebele, the medical association’s executive director.