North Dakota’s House of Representatives approved a legislative bill this Tuesday to legalize marijuana.
House Bill (HB) 1420 would allow the sale and possession of cannabis for adults aged 21 and over; however, cultivation of marijuana for personal use remains illegal. Under the bill, legal sales of marijuana are scheduled to begin on July 1, 2022
This coincides with the state lawmakers also passing several amendments this past week, including one reform to North Dakota’s medical marijuana program, allowing for the sale of up to 21 grams of cannabis for medical patients, but setting the legal carrying limit to one ounce.
State Republicans’ Views on Cannabis
HB 1420 was sponsored by Repbublican lawmaker Jason Dockter. While opposed to the legalization of cannabis, he has recognized that it is not a matter of if marijuana will be legalized in North Dakota, but when.
“[Marijuana legalization] is coming in – it’s already here”, he said during Tuesday’s House floor session regarding HB 1420.
The rationale of Dockter for proposing the legislation is to allow the state Legislature to decide on marijuana laws, rather than having these be decided upon by marijuana advocates through a ballot initiative.
Other state Republicans have also accepted the coming legalization. House Majority Leader Chet Pollert (R), having previously stated he is not a “marijuana person”, voiced support for marijuana legalization after seeing the success of South Dakota’s marijuana ballot initiatives in November 2020, and representative Matthew Ruby (R) has echoed Dockter’s sentiments regarding cannabis legalization.
What’s Next for Marijuana Legalization in North Dakota?
While HB 1420 passed through the House, representative Shannon Roers Jones (R) passed a legislative bill that would expand upon a marijuana decriminalization bill that was passed in North Dakota in 2019; however, if a broader legalization is approved in North Dakota’s Legislative Assembly, Jones has urged lawmakers to reject her bill.
As for HB 1420, it will now head to the Senate where another round of votes will be held. If approved, it will head to Governor Doug Burgum (R) for a final decision.
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