North Dakota Ballot Measure 2: Legalizing Marijuana
FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - North Dakotans will cast their vote on two initiated measures during the general election on Tuesday, November 8.
Measure 1 would add a new article to the North Dakota Constitution regarding gubernatorial and legislative term limits and Measure 2 would create a new chapter of the North Dakota Century Code legalizing the production, processing and sale of cannabis, and the possession and use of various forms of cannabis by anyone 21 years of age or older.
Voting yes on Measure 2 would legalize the adult use of marijuana in the state of North Dakota. Those over the age of 21 would be able to possess a limited amount of cannabis product. The measure would also provide protections, limitations, penalties, and employer rights relating to use of cannabis products. You can read the full text of Measure 2 that will appear on the ballot HERE.
According to information on the North Dakota Secretary of State’s website, the estimated fiscal impact of this measure beginning in 2023 through the 2025-2027 Biennium is revenue of $3,145,000 and expenses of $4,985,000.
On November 8, North Dakotans will have an opportunity to join 19 other states that have adopted laws to legalize and regulate cannabis for adults. Of the more than 25,000 signatures submitted in support of the legalization petition earlier this summer, the North Dakota Secretary of State’s review process determined that 23,368 of those were valid, clearing the ballot qualification threshold of 15,582 signatures for statutory measures.
Supporters say the proposal is largely based on language from a legislative cannabis legalization proposal, House Bill 1420, which was approved by the North Dakota House of Representatives in 2021.
Representative Matthew Ruby, a Republican state legislator and member of the campaign’s sponsoring committee, said, “A conservative approach to cannabis legalization based on legislation passed by the North Dakota House of Representatives. It balances personal freedom with personal responsibility. Adults will no longer be punished for using cannabis — but only if they do so safely and responsibly. As voters have a chance to review the measure in detail, I’m confident a majority will agree this is the right approach for North Dakota.”
Mark Friese is an attorney and former police officer who serves as the campaign’s treasurer.
“I served as a police officer in Bismarck for over five years and have defended those accused of marijuana offenses for the last twenty years. There is no public safety benefit from arresting adults for small amounts of marijuana. It is a waste of taxpayer resources and a distraction from serious public safety concerns. Cannabis causes far less harm than alcohol. Many people find therapeutic benefits from it. The government shouldn’t be in the business of punishing adults who use cannabis responsibly,” Friese said.
Law enforcement associations top the list of those opposed to the legalization of recreational marijuana. The North Dakota Sheriff’s and Deputies Association, the North Dakota Police Chief’s Association and the North Dakota Peace Officers Association have joined groups like the North Dakota Farmers Union, the North Dakota Farm Bureau, the Greater North Dakota Chamber, the North Dakota Petroleum Council, the Lignite Energy Council and the North Dakota Catholic Council to raise awareness of the harmful effects the legalization of recreational marijuana has already had in other states and encourage North Dakota voters to vote no on November 8.
“When you look at other states with legal recreational marijuana it’s easy to see the detrimental impacts it has caused. Legalized marijuana increases crime, increases DUIs and increases illegal drug trafficking of harder drugs,” explains Burleigh County Sherriff Kelly Leben. “In fact, with more users, illegal sales increase, not decrease. 80% of California marijuana sales are on the black market. Are these really outcomes we want for North Dakota?”
“Don’t buy into the argument that legalization of recreational marijuana will free up law enforcement to focus on more serious crime,” adds Mandan Police Chief Jason Ziegler. “If that were true, why would law enforcement associations come out opposed to this measure? The many states that already have legalized marijuana are only now realizing the huge social cost. North Dakota voters can put a stop to this by voting no.”
Those opposed argue marijuana is a gateway drug that leads to upward of 10% of users becoming addicted or using harder, more illicit drugs and putting a strain on already overwhelmed addiction counseling services.
“Marijuana use is not safe, like proponents want you to believe” explains Kristie Spooner, Healthy and Productive North Dakota Chair. “Marijuana can cause psychosis and a host of other mental health issues. We already have a mental health crisis in North Dakota, we don’t need to add to it.”
The North Dakota Farm Bureau opposes Measure 2, saying they need to stand up for farmers, ranchers and rural communities.
“Our concerns are based on the unintended consequences for farmers, ranchers, employers and rural communities,” said NDFB President Daryl Lies. “Workplace safety and accountability are a huge concern for NDFB. If passed, the measure will compound North Dakota’s workforce shortage, particularly if an employer requires applicants to pass a drug test. We believe the unintended consequences for business owners would be crippling.”
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