North Dakota has joined Michigan on the list of states with initiatives aiming to legalize recreational marijuana in the upcoming 2018 elections. While North Dakotans voted to legalize medical marijuana in 2016, they now will have the opportunity to fully legalize marijuana.
North Dakota voters passed the medical marijuana legalization measure with a large margin of support back in 2016, however, the program has not been executed smoothly. This prompted a small organization of anti-prohibition activists, Legalize ND, to write a new initiative to help adults consume and cultivate marijuana with little restrictions.
On Monday, the secretary of state’s office determined activists had collected an adequate number of signatures to qualify this ballot measure, allowing adults over the age of 21 to possess and cultivate marijuana legally. A total of 13,452 signatures were needed to include the measure on the ballot and supporters submitted over 18,000 signatures.
However, this measure differs from those approved in other states. North Dakota’s proposal would not limit how much marijuana citizens could possess or cultivate. For comparison purposes, in California residents can only legally possess up to one ounce of flower and can only grow up to six marijuana plants per household. Additionally, according to the Legalize ND website, the bill would also include paraphernalia, as well as all forms of cannabis such as, hash, oil, and other concentrates.
The bill would also expunge prior marijuana convictions for North Dakota residents’ criminal records. This means that if someone was charged with the possession of marijuana anytime before the implementation of the new law, he would still be tried under the old law.
The new law would not have any effect on his case. However, after the person is released, under the new law, the state will have 30 days to expunge their record. It’s not a pardon, commutation, or reduction of sentence, but instead the process of sealing or erasing a legal record of a criminal arrest or conviction after they’ve been released.
“Upon the first day of the law going into effect, the clock starts,” states the Legalize ND website. “From here the state has 30 days to expunge any individual whose crimes would now be legal”.
Though Legalize ND acknowledges they have an uphill battle, a poll from earlier this year indicates most North Dakota voters support fully legalizing marijuana 45 percent to 39 percent, with 15 percent of voters undecided.