Florida has been front and center as of late, after the state Supreme Court recently ruled that its amendment to legalize adult-use cannabis is fit for the ballot in this year’s election. But the Sunshine State is not alone, as North Dakota may be taking another go this November at ushering in its own recreational market.

Earlier this week, a group of 27 North Dakotans filed a 2024 ballot measure petition that would legalize adult-use cannabis in the state if approved, according to a report from The Jamestown Sun

Advocates must gather 15,582 signatures from eligible North Dakota voters by July 8 in order for the measure to make the ballot.

The New Economic Frontier committee is sponsoring the latest measure. The new proposal would allow adults over the age of 21 to possess small amounts of cannabis and purchase products from registered cannabis businesses in the state.

“Cannabis legalization is coming, and it’s coming fast,” said New Economic Frontier chair Steve Bakken. “We’ve got a choice here — let out-of-state interests call the shots, or take the lead ourselves. We’ve carefully crafted this initiative right here in North Dakota, making sure it fits what our community really needs. Let’s embrace this opportunity the North Dakota way, with common sense and local input guiding the way.” 

Upon the filing, the committee shared in a release that the measure will lessen the burden on the criminal justice system and act as means for further economic growth in North Dakota. 

Specifically, the committee shared that legalizing adult-use cannabis would allow law enforcement to focus on serious or violent crimes and enhance public safety, ultimately saving taxpayer money. It also pointed to the safety benefits of a regulated market, ensuring products are tested for potency and screened for contaminants. It additionally referenced the increased accessibility for veterans and those with medical conditions who cannot access medical cannabis.

Casey Neumann, CEO of local businesses Pure Dakota and Pure Dakota Health, nodded to this benefit, saying that he’s personally seen how medical cannabis can help residents battling numerous conditions like cancer, anxiety and chronic pain.

“This makes it easier for our neighbors to access cannabis for their medicinal needs, but it also will benefit our state as a whole through its taxation,” Neumann said. “The positive economic impact alone is a key reason why all North Dakotans should vote yes. Legalizing cannabis paves the way for a more prosperous future for our state.”

The committee cited a projected $38.4 billion in U.S. cannabis industry revenue for 2024, alongside 400,000 supported jobs and boosted funding for local school organizations and programs in communities throughout the state.

If seeing “North Dakota,” “ballot measure” and “adult-use cannabis” elicits a bit of déjà vu, it’s not without merit. 

Voters weighed in on Statutory Measure 2 during the 2022 election season, which would have legalized the production, processing and sale of cannabis in the state while allowing for adults over 21 to possess and use various forms of cannabis. Voters ultimately rejected the proposal, garnering just 45% approval.

North Dakota also made an effort to legalize recreational cannabis in 2018 through a ballot measure, but voters rejected that attempt as well with just 41% approving of the proposal.

Voters in the state approved medical cannabis legalization via Measure 5 in 2016, though the state Legislature later amended it to remove a provision allowing medical cannabis patients to grow their own cannabis. Gov. Doug Burgum also signed legislation to reduce cannabis possession penalties in 2019, though ingesting any amount of cannabis is still a misdemeanor punishable by 30 days in jail and a maximum fine of $1,500, with possession of less than a half-ounce punishable by a fine of up to $1,000.

While neighboring South Dakota similarly rejected its own recreational cannabis ballot measure in 2022, Minnesota sits just to the east of both states and legalized cannabis in 2023, with residents allowed to cultivate, possess and smoke cannabis flower. Sales are expected to launch in 2025.

Given trends of other states with neighbors gradually working to embrace cannabis reform — with advocates and lawmakers pushing to legalize rather than losing business and tax dollars through residents traveling across borders to purchase products — Minnesota’s recent leap could provide a bit of extra momentum for North Dakota’s effort this time around.

It’s now up to the secretary of state and attorney general to draft a petition title, which must be provided to the sponsored committee between April 23-25. 

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