ND Senate burns ‘Recreational Marijuana’ Bill

Published: Mar. 25, 2021 at 4:15 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Marijuana policy in North Dakota is put on hold after the Senate failed a package of legislation to create a path for legalization.

The North Dakota State Senate burned the bill after weeks of debates and rounds of amendments.

The bill for recreational adult-use failed by an assertive 37 – 10 vote.

Walking in, many thought the bill had a chance since the House passed the bills with comfortable margins.

When it came time to vote, the Senate had other ideas on how to handle recreational marijuana.

Lawmakers touted for months they didn’t want recreational marijuana in the state, but fears over initiated measures forced the issue on them.

“I think that train has left the station. We can see the headlight of that engine coming down the tracks. I would way rather be in the engine driving it than tied to the tracks so they could run over me,” Sen. Judy Lee, R-West Fargo, said.

Most weren’t on-board with where it would put North Dakota.

While neighboring states developed their own recreational policies, North Dakota lawmakers held their reservations and concerns.

“I will not have on my conscious nor on my shoulders any decision to allow this train to go to a destination that we can never return from,” Sen. Janne Myrdal, R-Edinbug, said.

The marijuana debate saw a spectrum of opinions.

Of the five bills which would have reshaped marijuana law, only two of them were endorsed by the Senate Committees.

Weeks ago, the votes in the House showed a comfortable but inconsistent support base.

The debate in the chamber focused on whether it should be lawmakers or voters deciding legalization.

Shortly after the vote took place, an organizer with Legalize ND said they already have a ballot petition written, and it is the same one that failed in 2018.

In the meantime, supporters of the adult-use may get a consolation prize in the coming weeks. The Senate is expected to vote on a “Decriminalization Bill” which would allow an individual to possess up to one ounce for a non-criminal offense with a penalty of up to $50.

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