Law enforcement says nearby marijuana legalization wont change ND policing

Stark County sheriff
Stark County sheriff(KFYR-TV)
Published: Nov. 5, 2020 at 7:35 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - With voters in Montana and South Dakota approving the legalization of recreational marijuana, it’s a possibility that some dispensaries could end up near our state borders.

In 2019, more than 47% of drug violations in North Dakota involved marijuana, according to the Attorney General’s crime report.

Sheriff’s Offices' near the border say the legalization of the drug in neighboring states won’t change their ways of policing, but it could impact the way they educate the public.

Stark County is 61 miles from the Montana boarder, and another 36 miles from three medical dispensaries in Dawson County.

“Could it could possibly create some issues here? That would be speculation on our part at this point not knowing what their law specifically allows,” says Eldon Mehrer, Lieutenant for the Stark County Sheriff’s Office.

56.5 % of Montana votes approved of recreational Marijuana becoming legal in the state at the beginning of the year. The Stark County Sheriff’s Office say’s residents will still be held accountable if caught with the drug.

“There could be some bleed over. I would anticipate us doing some more education with our citizens here, just to make them aware that our state does not have recreational use and again, bringing any kind of product across the border would be prohibited,” says Lt. Mehrer.

In 2019, Governor Doug Burgum signed House Bill 1050, classifying half an ounce or 14 grams of marijuana as a criminal infraction for first time offenders.

Which carries no jail time, but is punishable by a fine up to $1,000.

“We know marijuana is the most used drug illegal substance in North Dakota, but it’s not the most serious,” said Wayne Stenehjem, North Dakota Attorney General.

Stenehjem says the state will continue to prioritize drug seizures like fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine.

“We will probably continue to not prioritize possession of small amounts for personal or recreational use as has been the case for several years not,” says Stenehjem.

Stenehjem says law enforcement agencies and Highway Patrol troopers have been trained to recognize trafficking on main highways that connect North Dakota to the states legalizing the substance.

Legalization will take effect in Montana on January 1st followed by South Dakota on July 1st.

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