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North Dakota: Governor Signs Senate Measure Amending Voter-Initiated Medical Marijuana Law

Update: Governor Doug Burgum signed SB 2344 on April 18. You can read the full text of the measure here.

Update: Members of the House and Senate have reconciled SB 2344. The measure now awaits action from Gov. Doug Burgum, who intends to sign it into law. The measure allows only two state-licensed manufacturing facilities and up to eight dispensaries statewide (These facilities are anticipated to be operational within 12 to 18 months after law’s passage). It removes provisions in Measure 5 permitting patients who do not reside near a dispensary to cultivate their own cannabis. Amendments that sought to prohibit smoking herbal formulations of cannabis were not included in the final version of SB 2344, although qualified patients under the age of 19 will now be mandated only to consume cannabis in ways other than smoking.

Update: The bill passed through the Senate with the required majority. It will now go through a conference committee of three senators and three house members to negotiate the final details.

Update: SB 2344 cleared a House committee on April 3 with additional changes including the removal of the prohibition of herbal cannabis and a reduction of the annual patient application fee from $200 to $50. The bill will now go to a vote in the full House and requires a 2/3rds majority due to the fact that it changes a voter-passed initative. If passed in the House, the two versions of the bill will have to go through reconciliation.

Update: SB 2344 passed the Senate by a vote of 40-6, exceeding the two-thirds majority needed for amending the ballot measure. The bill now awaits further action by the House.

Update: Members of the Senate Human Services Committee have recommended passage of Senate Bill 2344. In response to voters’ concerns, they have amended the language so that the definition of ‘usable marijuana’ includes herbal forms of the plant but only in cases where such a formulation has been explicitly recommended by a physician. The amended language also removes provisions that would have allowed patients to petition the state to expand the list of qualifying conditions. NORML believes that these changes, as well as many others, undermine voters’ intent. The North Dakota Democratic Party has also raised various concerns regarding SB 2344. The measure now awaits action by the full Senate.

Senate legislation is pending, Senate Bill 2344, to significantly rewrite the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act.

Sixty-four percent of voters approved the law on Election Day. Lawmakers should respect the public’s will and implement this law as initiated.

Unfortunately, SB 2344 makes several unacceptable changes to the Act. Specifically, it eliminates provisions permitting specific patients the option to cultivate their own medicine, and reduces the quantity of medicine that patients may legally obtain. It also caps the number of medical cannabis cultivators and dispensaries to no more than four and eight, respectively.

Separate legislation, SB 2514, to delay the implementation of the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act to a date to be chosen by the legislature has already been signed into law.

Lawmakers’ decision to seemingly disregard the will of their constituents is both arrogant and troubling. Whether or not one supports marijuana law reform, one should find legislators’ attitudes and actions an affront to the democratic process. Americans have been told time and time again that ‘elections have consequences.’  There should not be a ‘marijuana exception’ to this longstanding principle.

Voters made their opinions on marijuana policy clear at the ballot box in November. Lawmakers in these jurisdictions have a responsibility to abide by the will of the people and to do so in a timely manner. Please urge them to do so by rejecting SB 2344.



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