Implementing Measure 5: Medical Cannabis for North Dakota

Published: Nov. 9, 2016 at 6:37 PM CST
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Just like our neighbors to the East in Minnesota, North Dakotan's can now get a prescription for medical marijuana. The issue was on our ballot Tuesday as Measure 5. Voters easily passed it with an almost 65% approval. But did we inadvertently open Pandora’s Box of pot without knowing how things are really going to change?

“There’s no question that the attitudes about that, about medical marijuana have changed,” said Ray Morgan.

It’s pretty safe to say Ray Morgan is a happy guy, laughing as he describes an email he sent some buddies Wednesday morning.

“Is the sky falling down? Donald trump is President and North Dakota has medical cannabis. What is going on?” he laughed.

He’s seeing green, and it’s not because he works in wealth management.

"We were just kind of in awe and actually kind of amazed. It was just an overwhelming feeling that the hundreds of hours that we put in were all worth the effort,” Morgan recalls of watching the election results.

Ray Morgan and his wife Anita…

“She's the nerve center, the brains of this operation believe me."

…worked tirelessly to get Measure 5 passed. But the 34 pages of new laws and regulations say the State Department of Health has 30 days to get this ball rolling. And if you don’t live within 40 miles of a dispensary, you get to grow eight plants for your own medical use.

“You're not going to be able to just go out and start growing marijuana in 30 days. That's not going to happen,” Morgan said.

He adds you have to see a doctor who will give you a prescription. Then you can only grow more than 1,000 feet from a school in a locked facility, and be subject to random checks by the state.

“I would think it would be allowed, yes,” said Morgan.

I asked him, since children will be able to get a prescription too, does this mean school nurses, who are usually required to administer prescription meds, will now be doling out medical cannabis? He said that’s probably going to be the case.

But he’s ready to dive in.

“[If the] physician allows it then yes I would like to try it anyway just to see if it would alleviate my neuropathy and help me with my drop foot condition. Yeah I’d like to try it,” he said.

There’s still quite a bit of uncertainty surrounding this measure. For example, only non-profits will be allowed to operate dispensaries in the state. We don’t know yet if any are forming or are stepping up to start the process.

Ray Morgan said he expects it to take at least a year to be fully implemented, and the legislature will need to appropriate the money for the State Department of Health.