North Dakota: Petition To Put Marijuana Legalization On Ballot Approved For Circulation

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A petition to place a measure on the November 8 ballot which would legalize marijuana has been approved in North Dakota.

Secretary of State Al Jaeger on Wednesday approved the petition, reports Valley News Live. The sponsoring committee will need to get at least 13,452 valid voter signatures in order to qualify for the ballot.

If approved, the measure would make it legal for adults 21 and older to grow, possess, use and distribute cannabis, and would prevent the state from requiring a license to do so (I just love that part!), according to Mike Nowatzki at Forum News Service.

It would also prohibit the state, cities and counties from taxing marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia at more than 20 percent.

Eric Olson of Fargo, chairman of the 26-member sponsoring committee, said advocates will start collecting signatures right away. The group is shooting for 20,000 signatures "for a safe margin," Olson said.

"It's a relief we're finally at the stage for collecting signatures," Olson said, reports Nick Smith at The Bismarck Tribune. The sponsors intend to rely on volunteers, but will hired paid signature gatherers if necessary, Olson said.

Olson had originally filed the petition paperwork back on February 10, but had to resubmit it because his initial filing had referred to state laws but didn't reflect changes made by the 2015 Legislature.

The original petition would also have deleted "synthetic cannabinoids" from the state's list of Schedule I substances, which drew concerns from the state Board of Pharmacy and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who had worked several years to ban those substances. The revised petition leaves synthetic drugs on the list of controlled substances.

"I feel like that was a huge distraction from the actual issue, so we chose to just remove it," Olson said.

Two of North Dakota's three Republican gubernatorial candidates, Stenehjem and Fargo businessman Doug Burgum, said last week during a debate that they oppose marijuana legalization. The other GOP hopeful, state Rep. Rick Becker of Bismarck, said he would vote to legalize pot if the measure qualifies for the ballot.

Signatures must be submitted to the Secretary of State by midnight on July 11.

Graphic: Whaxy