The group behind a North Dakota marijuana legalization initiative reported submitting 25,672 signatures on Monday July 11, to qualify for the November 2022 ballot. For the initiative to qualify, 15,582 of the signatures must be valid, reports Ballotpedia.
“This signature drive showed us that, from Williston to Grand Forks, people all across our state are ready for responsible cannabis policy reform,” said New Approach North Dakota Chairman Dave Owen. ”We’re looking forward to all of our hard work paying off when we receive the official word that we’re on the ballot.”
Along with North Dakota, campaigns also submitted signatures for legalization initiatives on the November ballot in Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.
One Ounce; Three Plants
The measure would legalize Cannabis for adults 21 and older and allow them to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to three plants.
It would require the Department of Health and Human Services, or another agency designated by the Legislature, to establish an adult-use marijuana program. The program would regulate the production and distribution of Cannabis by October 1, 2023.
Under the measure, the department could license seven cultivation facilities and 18 marijuana stores. Cannabis would be taxed at North Dakota’s 5% sales tax rate.
“Restricted, Regulated, Controlled”
Owen also chaired LegalizeND. That group sponsored a Cannabis legalization initiative that voters rejected in 2018.
He said the biggest difference between Measure 3 of 2018 and this initiative is that “[this initiative] is restricted, regulated, controlled, legal marijuana. This is a marijuana program that is very, very similar to the one that passed the North Dakota State House.”
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized possession and use of marijuana for adult use. Eleven states and DC legalized marijuana through the ballot initiative process.
“Arresting Adults For Marijuana Doesn’t Make Our Communities Any Safer”
The initiative‘s provisions largely match the House-passed legalization bill ultimately rejected by the Senate.
“It is obvious the status quo of arresting adults for small amounts of marijuana doesn’t make our communities any safer. It only wastes limited law enforcement and court resources,” said New Approach North Dakota Treasurer Mark Friese. ”I’m looking forward to presenting the facts about this issue to more and more voters as November approaches.”
Enthusiastic, Bipartisan Support
Secretary of State Al Jaeger’s office rejected two other ballot initiatives on unrelated issues this cycle after determining many of the signatures those campaigns collected were invalid. But New Approach ND campaign manager David Owens said that they’re confident they took the necessary precautions to ensure that their measure will qualify.
The campaign had already secured more than 21,000 signatures ahead of the weekend. Organizers held events across the state to expand that buffer before Monday’s turn-in deadline.
Owens said the initiative enjoys enthusiastic, bipartisan support. “We are tremendously grateful to the tens of thousands of North Dakotans who signed and our terrific team of signature gatherers,” he said.
Localities Can Ban Cannabis Businesses
The initiative does not provide a pathway for expungements. But activists said they intend to work with the legislature on addressing that issue in 2023.
Local jurisdictions would be able to prohibit Cannabis businesses from operating in their area. Marijuana companies would also be required to adhere to local zoning rules.
Manufacturers would have to pay a $110,000 registration fee every two years. Retailers would need to pay $90,000 biennially. Those funds would support the state’s implementation and administration of the adult-use program. The initiative doesn’t lay out any specific uses of funds collected from these fees beyond administration.
Public consumption would remain prohibited.