The end of February will bring a welcome completion to a two-year effort by the North Dakota state Health Department to establish a distribution system for marijuana.
On Feb. 28, a dispensary will open in Fargo. Acreage Holdings will be the company behind the store, called The Botanist, and the products offered will be from a manufacturing facility in Bismarck.
The vote to approve medical marijuana occurred in November 2016, and since then the Health Department has been hard at work to set up a list of rules related to use of marijuana for 17 specific health conditions.
Among those rules are a list of six approved methods of marijuana dispersal, with a seventh proposed — edibles. Concerns remain about children gaining access to edibles, but advocates argue that parental responsibility has to be a factor at some point.
North Dakota has been issuing cards to those patients deemed eligible for medical marijuana since January, after accepting applications since October 2018. The goal is to have eight dispensaries open by the fall of 2019 to better serve the state’s patients who are in need of the drug treatment. As of February, plans were in place and relationships established for operators in three cities in addition to Bismarck; Fargo, Grand Forks, and Williston. For the cities of Devils Lake, Jamestown, Minot, and Dickinson, applications have been received and are under consideration.
Meanwhile, a recent move by the North Dakota legislature will open up eligibility for medical marijuana use. A new bill is working its way through the legislature to expand the number of conditions eligible for medical marijuana treatment to 30 for the state’s residents. This would include migraines, autism spectrum disorders, Tourette Syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis.
This included a 90-3 vote by the state House on the legislature, which also makes it easier for health professionals to designate a patient as eligible for the treatment. The professional simply has to state that the patient has a condition on the approved list for them to receive the treatment. Another bill will allow the state’s physician assistants to designate patients as having a specified disorder that deems them eligible for marijuana treatment.