North Dakota To Vote On Legalizing Recreational Marijuana In November

by Kim Boateng Posted on August 14th, 2018

Bismarck, North Dakota : North Dakota will vote on whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use after a measure was approved for the November ballot on Monday.

David Owen, a University of North Dakota student leading the measure campaign, submitted 14,637 valid signatures, which was more than 1,200 necessary for approval, The Grand Forks Herald reported.

The ballot will come before voters about two years after they overwhelmingly voted to legalize marijuana for medicinal use, which was the result of a campaign that Owen was also a part of.

If approved, recreational marijuana would be similar to other states. Legal use would be limited to people over the age of 21 and regulation would be similar to alcohol.

Despite voter enthusiasm to legalize a substance many people use, law enforcement authorities are already speaking out against the measure.

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said legalized marijuana could lead to a rise in crime in other areas.

“It could put pressure on the treatment providers because there are a number of people who are in treatment where marijuana is their No. 1 drug of choice, so I think it just might shift the law enforcement issues from one place to another,” he told reporters, according to The Bismarck Tribune. “I’ve said for a long time that I don’t think, if marijuana is legalized in North Dakota, we will be healthier or safer.”

Bit Owen, who said his grassroots effort has taken off with just around $8,000, said it would be a mistake to continue criminalizing people for using marijuana.

“Because of a plant … they are now barred for the rest of their life from ever really achieving what they could be,” he said. “And that is the real crime of the war on drugs.”

Currently, nine states and the District of Columbia have recreational marijuana laws on the books.

EARLIER : Legal Recreational Marijuana (Cannabis) In Vermont Goes Into Effect

Montpelier, Vermont, USA : In January, Vermont became the ninth U.S. state to legalize recreational marijuana, but the law took effect July 1.

The law permits adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis, or five grams of hashish and to grow “two mature and four immature marijuana plants” on private property in a secured enclosure that’s kept out of public sight. Those plants wouldn’t count toward the one ounce possession limitation.

If you don’t own the property, you’d have to get the property owner’s permission before cultivating cannabis.

“Consumption of marijuana in a public place or in a vehicle is prohibited as is possession of an open container of marijuana in a vehicle, and violations are subject to civil penalties,” a summary of the bill text explains. There are also penalties for providing or “enabling consumption” of marijuana to individuals under 21.

The legislation doesn’t explicitly address marijuana “gifting,” which has served as a way to circumvent market restrictions in certain legal jurisdictions like the District of Columbia.

Employers are still allowed to enforce policies against consuming, cultivating or displaying marijuana in the workplace.

If an employer has a no-tolerance drug policy, employees can be fired for violating that policy even if they use cannabis outside the workplace. However, the Vermont Attorney General’s office cautioned employers when it comes to penalizing medical cannabis patients suffering from debilitating conditions in a recent guidance report:

“Under [Vermont’s Fair Employment Practices Act], it is unlawful for any employer, employment agency, or labor organization to discriminate against a “qualified individual with a disability.” Discrimination means not only intentional mistreatment of a disabled employee or applicant, but also failure to provide a reasonable accommodation to that individual… employees carrying a medical marijuana card and those dealing with substance abuse issues may be protected under VFEPA’s disability provisions.”

The new system does not provide access to cannabis seeds or products at dispensaries, as is the case in other states where recreational marijuana is legal.

The legislation does yet not detail how the production of the drug will be taxed or regulated. And because the law does not set up a system to do such for marijuana shops, users must either purchase the drug from illicit dealers or grow it themselves  – no need for a doctor’s recommendation.

Vermont becomes ninth state to legalize recreational pot. Vermont also becomes the first to end cannabis prohibition through an act of lawmakers, rather than a ballot initiative.

Medical marijuana is legal in more than two dozen states and recreational marijuana is now legal in nine states and Washington, D.C.

When Vermont Governor Phil Scott (R) signed the adult-use legalization bill, H. 511, into law on January 22, the governor said that he had “mixed feelings” about the legislation, but added that he believed “what adults do behind closed doors and on private property is their choice, so long as it does not negatively impact the health and safety of others, especially children.”

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Kim Boateng

Kim Boateng

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