ND Voters Might Get Another Say on Legalizing Marijuana
Tuesday, April 19, 2022
A pending decision could provide more clarity on whether North Dakota will get another chance to see how voters feel about legalizing marijuana.
This month, a campaign called New Approach North Dakota launched efforts to collect enough signatures to get the issue on the fall ballot. The Secretary of State is deciding whether the group can start circulating petitions. Similar drives in North Dakota have fallen apart in the past couple of years.
Mark Friese, a criminal defense attorney, former police officer, and treasurer of the campaign, said the plan is not as broadly written and might resonate more within the state's political landscape, while being more aligned with existing state law.
"I visited with a lot of people during the last efforts to do this," Friese recounted. "And there were a large number of people that said, 'I support in theory what's being advanced here, but I don't like the way it's being done.' "
The proposed ballot question is modeled after legislation that gained some traction in the last session, but ultimately didn't pass. The new plan would allow adults 21 and older to possess limited amounts of cannabis and purchase products from registered establishments.
National polls indicate overwhelming public support for legalization, but North Dakota voters rejected the idea in 2018.
Since then, other petition efforts ran into pandemic barriers, as well as not collecting enough signatures in time. One organizer suggested it was difficult to reach the threshold with unpaid volunteers.
Friese acknowledged they have a tight window this time but hopes they are building an outreach system which will allow voters to rethink the issue. He argued the public needs another chance to decide whether adults should live with lifelong consequences for minor drug offenses.
"I've represented good people who have been denied housing," Friese explained. "They've been denied enlistment into the military. They've been denied admission into colleges or institutions of higher learning. "
The issue is being closely monitored in the Midwest, with South Dakota debating legalization as well. Voters in the state approved the idea in 2020, but opponents successfully overturned the decision by challenging the wording of the ballot question.
Friese added while the "multiple subject" rule applies to North Dakota legislation, it does not affect ballot questions put before voters.
Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.
get more stories like this via email
Agriculture groups and government agencies aren't slowing down in trying to convince farmers to use more sustainable practices such as cover crops…
Winter is here, leaving many older South Dakotans vulnerable to social isolation. But a growing body of research, as well as opportunities, shows …
By Jala Forest / Broadcast version by Nadia Ramlagan Reporting for the Kent State-Ohio News Connection Collaboration Nearly 40% of college students a…
The Biden administration has proposed a rule to limit methane flaring from oil and gas development on public lands. The rule would impose royalty …
The flu, COVID and RSV are rapidly spreading in Kentucky, and health experts say that's a problem for hospitals, schools and the state's vulnerable …
As its 125th anniversary nears, the Connecticut Audubon Society has released a report detailing the effectiveness of conservation efforts in the …
2022 was a banner year for women elected as governor. Nearly one-third of America's governors will be women next year, which is a record. Iowa …
Residential water rates in Michigan are soaring, with an estimated one out of ten households without access to or unable to afford clean water…