Various states have legalized recreational use of marijuana, but North Dakota’s proposed measure set for a vote in November is the most progressive in one element. The proposal, named Measure 3, does not set a maximum amount of marijuana that users can have on their person.
Other states typically have a maximum of one to two ounces as the standard amount anyone over the age of 21 can carry within the state. Because federal law still prohibits the possession of marijuana, carrying the drug across state lines is another issue altogether.
For North Dakota residents, the new law will allow them to carry any amount of the drug, and in addition, it will expunge convictions for past marijuana crimes, providing those who have been found guilty in marijuana-related crimes with a clean slate.
These measures together show the state’s trending towards libertarianism at the level commonly recognized for small government, even though the state has yet to open any dispensaries for medical marijuana patients. The measure for legalization of medical marijuana passed with a strong majority in 2016, surprising many with its clear representation of voter opinion on marijuana use.
The measure proposed for the vote in November will allow possession and growth of marijuana without any set limits. Meanwhile, the proposal to expunge records will come with a hefty price tag; estimates show that the effort will require hiring around 100 people and paying $1.1 million, since the state currently has around 180,000 criminal records that have to do with marijuana-related criminal charges.
The Health Department has also quoted a $4 million figure for a campaign to increase awareness among youth regarding the dangers of marijuana use, although marijuana advocates say that and other proposed costs are not a necessity to make the legislation a reality.
Meanwhile, the North Dakota Attorney General’s office says that more than half of the arrests in the state involve marijuana already, meaning that legalization will simply lead to a greater prevalence of the drug and violent crimes and workplace issues that will relate back to said prevalence.
One interesting factor that isn’t getting a lot of press is that even if the legislation passes, the law could be changed by legislators after the fact. State Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismark, has been one of the state’s politicians to mention this to the press in recent months. This means the measure may be written in such a way as to encourage voter approval, while plans are in play to include limitations once the measure has made it one step closer to law.
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