Connect with us


North Dakota Activists Say They’ve Collected Enough Signatures To Put Marijuana Legalization On The Ballot This November



North Dakota activists say they have collected enough signatures to put a marijuana legalization initiative on the November ballot, with plans to formally submit the petitions to the state next week.

“After months of hard work and incredible community support, we are ready to submit our collected signatures at the North Dakota State Capitol,” the campaign New Economic Frontier said in an email on Tuesday.

The advisory didn’t specify how many signatures activists collected—but they’ve been internally verifying the petitions throughout the process, with the campaign saying it reached the halfway point last month. In order to make the ballot this November, they will need to submit 15,582 valid signatures to the state by Monday’s deadline, which is when the campaign has scheduled its turn-in event for.

“Once we know the bill is going to be on the ballot, then it turns into opportunities to talk about what cannabis can do for North Dakota from a judicial and law enforcement perspective,” Steve Bakken, a Burleigh County commissioner and chair of the campaign, told Minot Daily News. “There’s a lot of different layers on this, and giving the public the information to make their own decision as a voter is vitally important.”

He added that the intent of the proposal is not to create an “unfettered recreational law in North Dakota,” but it’s still “very important to us that the state has the ability to regulate it, have oversight, license it [and] tax it how they see fit.”

A recent poll signals that the campaign has its work cut out for them, however, with a majority of likely North Dakota voters opposing the cannabis measure as activists neared the finish line to collect enough signatures for qualification.

The survey from the founder of independent political action committee Brighter Future Alliance found that 57 percent of voters are against the cannabis reform measure, compared to 43 percent who are in favor.

New Economic Frontier filed its initiative with the state and formally launched the campaign in April.

Under the legalization measure, adults 21 and older would be able to possess up to one ounce of marijuana flower, four grams of concentrate and 300 milligrams of edibles that they could buy from a limited number of licensed dispensaries. Adults could also grow up to three plants for personal use, with a six-plant cap per household.

The state Department of Health and Human Services or another agency designated by the legislature would be responsible for regulating the program. Regulators would need to establish rules to implement the law by October 1, 2025.

North Dakota voters rejected an earlier cannabis legalization proposal at the ballot box two years ago.

The new proposal would limit regulators to approving licenses for up to seven cannabis manufacturers and 18 retailers. There are also provisions meant to avoid creating intrastate monopolies, such as limiting licensees to no more than four dispensaries.

Currently, there are eight medical cannabis dispensaries operating in North Dakota. The initiative requires regulators to develop separate application processes for those businesses to become dual licensees and non-existing companies that wish to become recreational operators.

Unlike other legal states, the proposal in North Dakota doesn’t appear to contain criminal justice reform components favored by equity advocates such as expungements or licensing prioritization for people harmed by the drug war. It also doesn’t seem to contain any references to a proposed tax scheme for legal sales.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

In 2021, North Dakota’s House approved a marijuana legalization bill sponsored by Rep. Jason Dockter (R), but it was ultimately defeated in the Senate after advancing through committee.

Following that defeat, some senators devised a new plan to advance the issue by referring it to voters on the 2022 ballot. The resolution moved through a key committee in 2021, but the Senate also blocked it.

There have been repeated attempts by activists to enact legalization in the Peace Garden state over the years.

Advocates with the separate group North Dakota Cannabis Caucus started collecting signatures to qualify a constitutional amendment legalizing cannabis for the 2022 ballot, but they did not gather enough by deadline.

New Approach ND previously led an effort to place a legalization measure on the 2018 ballot that was defeated by voters. They filed another initiative for 2020, but signature gathering complications largely caused by the coronavirus pandemic got in the way.

North Dakota voters approved a medical cannabis ballot measure in 2016.

Last year, North Dakota’s governor signed a bill allowing patients admitted to hospice care to self-certify as medical marijuana patients.

The North Dakota House of Representatives also approved a resolution last year that encourages residents to buy U.S. flags that are made out of hemp and manufactured in the state.

U.S. Supreme Court Sends Marijuana And Gun Case Back To Lower Court, Emboldening DOJ’s Defense Of Firearm Ban

Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
Become a patron at Patreon!

Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based managing editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.


Marijuana News In Your Inbox

Get our daily newsletter.

Support Marijuana Moment

Marijuana News In Your Inbox


Get our daily newsletter.