After being disappointed with lawmakers, a local man is asking the community to help legalize medical marijuana in North Dakota. Ray Morgan, a Fargo man suffering from severe back pain is leading the fight.
He’s asking the community to sign a petition. He's formed a committee of 25 people, and if they get approval from the Secretary of State they can start collecting signatures. They need 13,500 people need to sign on. If they get that, you will be able to vote for or against legalizing medical marijuana on the November 2016 ballot.
"It's hard for people to imagine unless you do go through it,” says Morgan. He is the face behind the message. After having multiple back surgeries, he says he's in pain, he can't even describe. "Anybody who is suffering from any number of physical ailments might benefit from at least trying medical marijuana verses some of the prescription drugs that are harmful to their body."
Morgan didn't just wake up one morning and decide to start a petition; he's found hope in seeing other states legalizing marijuana, and locally thinks the general election will give it more action. "I visited with friends all over the state and for the most part everyone would vote for this initiated measure,” he says, “I think the legislature just a little bit narrow minded in their thinking and I think this will pass relatively easy once we get it on the ballot."
Action that takes a lot of effort, he says some people still have a sour taste in their mouth after a handful of members on the NDSU football team were caught in voter fraud over a similar petition. "Be compassionate,” says Morgan while laughing, “If you haven't been through pain and suffering, this is a good time to think of others."
Morgan says if he doesn't win this battle the war isn't over, if 1 other person benefits, why not keep trying to improve quality of life for the community he loves. "I just wish we would be a little more progressive in some things," says Morgan.
Last session a bill to legalize medical marijuana failed in the house, some of those against it were local law enforcement. We talked to Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney. Who says the benefits of legalizing marijuana will never outweigh the pitfalls and the impact on our society. Fargo police tell us they don't have an official position on it, saying it's so far out.
Meanwhile, over in Moorhead the medical marijuana dispensary is still on hold. Owners tell us they're shooting for a fall opening, saying the problem is complex. Adding, it’s a new business that's never existed before, and it takes a lot of work to get them up and operating. Right now, they have two so far working in the state. By law they must have them all up and running by July 1st, 2016.