“The law applies to where you are at, not where you’re from”: Marijuana laws across state lines

Published: Apr. 27, 2023 at 6:30 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Recreational marijuana could be legal in Minnesota. The state senate plans to vote on the bill tomorrow. It already passed the house earlier this week. With Gov. Walz’s signature, Minnesota would be the 21st state to legalize recreational marijuana, but North Dakota is not one of them.

“It means nothing in North Dakota,” says criminal defense lawyer Lindsey Haugen, who practices in both Minnesota and North Dakota.

“So it’s important to know, the law applies to where you are at, not where you’re from,” he says.

Minnesota looks likely to legalize recreational marijuana as soon at this week, but it remains illegal on the other side of the Red River.

“If you cross the river into North Dakota and you have two ounces of marijuana in your glove compartment, even if it’s completely legal in Minnesota, it is a criminal offense in North Dakota,” Haugen says.

While lawmakers are still working out the details, in Minnesota People could soon, legally own two ounces of cannabis flower or one and a half pounds of it in your home. You could also carry up to eight grams of cannabis concentrates, sometimes called dabs, as well as have up to 800 milligrams of THC edibles. But if you hold those same amounts in North Dakota...

“You could be charged with a felony possession with intent,” states Haugen.

While smaller amounts of marijuana may be brought down to infractions in the state, Haugen says: It’s still illegal.

“I think a lot of people have been fooled to think that if it’s just an infraction I can go to court, I can pay a ticket and it will somehow go away. That’s not always true. That can still hang around and be a permanent conviction,” says the criminal defense lawyer.

Unless you’re one of the nearly 10,000 North Dakotan’s with a medical marijuana card...

“It might be protected in some ways but without that, that’s still not going to change the penalties you could face in North Dakota,” he says.

Haugen says he feels there’s a real possibility the legalization could also bump up the amount of DUI charges coming out of North Dakota for those using marijuana in Minnesota.

“With alcohol, it’s very clear, 0.08% alcohol concentration in your blood, you can be charged with a crime. There’s no similar number for marijuana, and that might make it harder to detect,” he explains.

Haugen tells Valley News Live he feels prosecutors are going to have to make some ‘gut determinations’ on whether to pursue marijuana-related cases, given the circumstances of the states.