Medical cannabis expansion laws signed by North Dakota Governor

Among the amendments that the governor has made to North Dakota's medical cannabis bills, the list of qualifying conditions has been updated with 12 new debilitating ailments

At the end of April, Republican Gov. Doug Burgum signed a set of laws that would broaden the scope of North Dakota’s medical cannabis program. The program was established by the North Dakota Department of Health following the legalization of medical cannabis under a voter initiative in November 2016.

Although it’s been two and a half years since a bill to legalize medical cannabis was approved, North Dakota’s cannabis industry has had a slow start. In March of this year, a Fargo-based medical cannabis dispensary became the first to open its doors.
(Pictured) Governor Burgum

In an effort to clear a few things up before the next dispensaries launch for business across the state, Gov. Burgum has initiated amendments to the following cannabis bills:

  • House Bill 1283: This bill allows physicians to prescribe cannabis to patients who qualify.
  • House Bill 1417: Under the details of this bill, patients who suffer from and have been diagnosed with cancer can possess six ounces of cannabis flower. In order to do so, a certified healthcare provider must provide authorization.
  • House Bill 1519: More patients are eligible to receive medical cannabis under this bill, which adds a number of debilitating conditions to the list of qualifying conditions. They include anorexia, autism spectrum disorder, migraine and Tourette Syndrome.

The list of amendments made by Burgum to the aforementioned cannabis bills included:

  • Permitting a medical cannabis cultivation facility to grow 1,000 plants or more to meet patient demand.
  • Updating the list of qualifying conditions to include 12 new debilitating ailments.
  • Enabling qualifying cancer patients to purchase up to six ounces of medical cannabis within the space of 30 days.
  • Granting qualified medical cannabis patients aged 19 and above the opportunity to purchase 2.5 ounces of the plant in its pharmaceutical form within 30 days without obtaining a recommendation from a certified healthcare provider and now, physician assistants; it is no longer necessary for a patient to acquire a note in order to benefit from the therapeutic effects of medical cannabis in North Dakota.

North Dakota Governor recently signed law to reduce penalties for pot possession

Back in 2016, North Dakota ranked number six on a list of U.S. States with the most incidents of arrest for cannabis possession. Individuals caught in possession of weed in North Dakota would have previously been faced with a five-year stint behind bars. However, with Republican Gov. Doug Burgum now having signed House Bill 1050, penalties for pot possession have been reduced and will be effectuated on the first day of August.

Jail time is no longer in the cards for those caught in possession of the plant, so long as the amount does not exceed half an ounce; equivalent to 14.175 grams. Being caught with the said amount will no longer be classified as a criminal misdemeanor that carries the risk of 30 days behind bars. Rather, it will be classified as an infraction that carries a fine and no risk of jail time. Misdemeanor charges may be imposed if  the individual is charged with subsequent infractions within the space of a year.

Possessing up to 500 grams of weed in North Dakota has also been reclassified from a felony that carries a five-year prison sentence to a class B misdemeanor. Anyone who is caught in possession of more than this amount will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, instead of a felony.