North Dakota activists submitted a measure to legalize marijuana for adult use to state officials on Thursday, an organizer confirmed to Marijuana Moment.
Legalize ND, the group behind the proposed statutory initiative, delivered the measure to the secretary of stateâs office. Itâs expected to be validated within days, after which point petitions will be distributed to collect signatures in support of qualifying for the 2020 ballot.
Itâs been about a year since organizers began working on the measure, which would allow adults 21 and older to possess and purchase cannabis for personal use. The proposal is more narrowly tailored than a legalization initiative from the same organization that voters rejected in 2018, however.
The previous version didnât include any restrictions on cultivation or possession, and it didnât involve a licensing scheme. By contrast, the new measure would prohibit home cultivation, limit possession to two ounces, impose a 10 percent excise tax and establish a regulatory body to approve licenses for marijuana businesses.
âOne of the largest complaints from last time was the mantra of âpoorly written,’â Legalize NDâs David Owen told Marijuana Moment in a phone interview. âThey targeted the lack of legal experience from our team and they targeted a lack of âqualified lawyersâ to be drafting language that would go into the stateâs statutory law.â
But he said heâs confident the campaign will be successful this time around, in part because they spent months drafting the language with the North Dakota Legislative Council.
Asked what heâd say to voters still on the fence about legalization, Owen replied that it would depend on what their initial concerns were:
âIf itâs a concern over home grow, well itâs simple, we donât have that anymore. If itâs a concern of people having too much, we have a reasonable possession limit nowâin their eyes, I still think possession limits are fundamentally arbitrary, but they wanted a possession limit so we have that now. If people go, âwell what about the quality of the language?â I can point to how itâs literally written by Legislative Council, so either every attorney who works for the state of North Dakota is incompetent or this is well written.â
In order to qualify for next yearâs ballot, the group must collect 13,452 valid signatures from voters before July 6, 2020.
âI think the most important thing isnât what it would do, but what it would stop from happening,â Owen told local radio station KFGO on Wednesday. âWe currently have a system where people are unable to find a job because of a criminal record, we have a system where people are continuing to get marijuana charges and lose their housing, we have families being separated because of parents losing custody over their children for marijuana charges. That all stops when this is legalized.â
Listen to Owenâs radio interview about the new marijuana ballot measure below:
Internal polling that received outside funding, which Owen said cannot be publicly released because of the wishes of the donor, shows the initiative is âslightly aheadâ among voters.
In an earlier interview with Marijuana Moment in February, Owen said that itâs âvery probable that we can do itâ this time around, but much of that depended on the extent to which opposition campaigns are involved and how much funding outside groups are able to offer.
Currently, North Dakota has a medical cannabis program, and the governor signed legislation in May decriminalizing low-level marijuana possession.
Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.