North Dakota will vote on cannabis legalization in November

Published on August 15, 2022
illustration of North Dakota overlaid with pot leaf
Let's do this thing, North Dakota! (young84, Brickclay/iStock)

The great northern thaw continues, my friends.

Earlier today, Aug. 15, North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger announced that an adult-use cannabis legalization measure will appear on the state’s November ballot.

The announcement caps a hasty campaign led by New Approach North Dakota (New Approach ND) to place legalization on the 2022 ballot. Even though the group had less than three months to gather the necessary 16,000 signatures—2% of the state’s population—in July they submitted nearly 26,000. According to a press release from New Approach ND, state officials considered more than 23,000 of the signatures to be valid.

“We’re proud of our petitioners and volunteers across the entire state who worked diligently on this to ensure that the people of North Dakota will be allowed to vote on this important issue,” New Approach ND Chairman Dave Owen told Forum News Service.

What’s in the initiative?

If passed, the measure would do the following:

  • L​egalize the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, four grams of cannabis concentrate, and up to 500 milligrams of edibles
  • Allow adults to grow three plants at home. The state would be required to create a market of retailers, manufacturers, and enact testing and tracking procedures.
  • Establish a regulatory framework for the program
  • Prohibit public consumption
  • Require state-certified labs to test all cannabis flower and products before it hits shelves

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

“North Dakota has long had one of the highest marijuana arrests rates in the nation, despite having among the lowest reported marijuana use of any state,” noted NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri in a press release sent earlier today. “Legalization will not only bring justice to thousands of North Dakotans, but it will also provide a new, booming industry that will help local businesses and the countless family farms in the state.”

Election 2022: Marijuana legalization voting guide

If at first you don’t succeed…

New Approach ND’s success this August follows a failed campaign in 2018, also led by Owen. 

The new measure reads very similar to a legalization measure that passed the North Dakota House of Representatives last year; that bill died in the state Senate.

North Dakota voted to legalize medical marijuana in 2016, but products did not become available for purchase until 2019.

This November, South Dakotans will similarly vote on adult use marijuana, while North Dakota’s neighbor to the west, Montana, legalized adult use in 2020.

Residents of Arkansas, Maryland, and Missouri will also vote on adult use legalization measures in November. Officials in Oklahoma continue to verify signatures for an adult-use measure there as well.

North Dakota marijuana laws

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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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