ND House Votes To Move Forward With Several Marijuana Bills, Rejects One
The North Dakota House of Representatives heard the case for six separate marijuana related bills on Monday, ultimately deciding to approve four, move another on to a vote and reject a sixth. Another drug-related bill was also passed by the house yesterday.
House Bills 1283, 1364, 1417, and 1519 were all passed and will move on to be voted on by the State Senate. House Bill 1155 made it through the committee hearing process and was given a "Do Pass" recommendation. House Bill 1148, which would allow medical marijuana owners to legally possess firearms was rejected by the House. In addition to these bills, House Bill 1164, which allows for the reduction of sentences for people with drug convictions, was passed.
Bismarck's medical marijuana dispensary is expected to open in June.
Check out the breakdown of each of these bills below.
Status: Rejected in a 6-85 vote.
What it proposed: Had it passed all the way through the ND Senate, this bill would have add a subsection to section 19-24.1-32 of the North Dakota Century Code, allowing for medical marijuana patients to own a firearm. Marijuana is still currently classified federally as a schedule 1 controlled substance, despite being legalized in several state. Under federal law, this disqualifies users from being able to legally purchase a firearm. This bill now appears dead unless the federal government decides to review and reclassify marijuana's schedule 1 classification.
Status: Committee gave a "Do Pass" recommendation, House vote upcoming
What it proposes: This bill would look to decriminalize marijuana possession by significantly reducing sentences for those with possessions of small amounts of the drug. Under the proposed bill, possession of an ounce or less of marijuana would be classifed a non-criminal offense and come with a fee of 200 dollars. Possession of more than one ounce, but less than a pound would be a class B misdemeanor.
Under current ND laws, punishment for marijuana possession is far more severe.
- Under 0.5 oz : Class B misdemeanor (30 days and/or $1,000).
- Under 0.5 oz while operating a motor vehicle: Class A misdemeanor (up to 1 year and/or $1,000 — but may be expunged from record if no further conviction for 2 years)
- Under 1 oz.: Class A misdemeanor punished as described above.
- More than 1 oz but less than 500g: Class C Felony (5 yrs. and/or $5,000)
Status: Approved in 77-15 vote, Senate vote upcoming
What it proposes: This bill would create an Act that would allow for people convicted of drug crimes to reduce their sentencing by participating in a drug courts program. Anyone with a felony conviction would be able to get their charge reduced to a misdemeanor upon a successful completion of the program. Likewise, those with a misdemeanor would be able to get a dismissal and have their case sealed.
Representative Shannon Roers Jones told KFYR judges would decide which cases are eligible for drug court.
Status: Approved in a 90-3 vote, Senate vote upcoming
What it proposes: This bill seeks to amend the state's medical marijuana law, to include physician assistant under the definition of a health care provider. As the law is currently written, only a physician or advanced practice registered nurse can recommend medical marijuana for a patient with a qualifying medical condition. The bill also eliminates language in the law that state's the provider's professional opinion that their patient would "receive therapeutic or palliative benefit" with medical marijuana use.
"We changed this so the doctor only has to say that they have one of the qualifying conditions," Rep. Matthew Ruby, R-Minot told the Bismarck Tribune.
This part of the bill came about after doctors had voiced concerns that any recommendations they made for medical marijuana use could jeopardize their medical license and malpractice insurance.
Status: Approved in a 72-21 vote, Senate vote upcoming
What it proposes: This bill seeks to add "edibles" to the products available for purchase by medical marijuana users. Dried leaves and flowers, tinctures, capsules, transdermal patches and topical products are currently the approved products for purchase under state law. An edible product would be a food or liquid product containing marijuana concentrate.
The bill would include limitations on the amount of THC these products could contain. These restrictions would include: limiting the maximum amount of a single product to 5 milligrams, the amount of servings in a package to 10, and a package to no more than 50 milligrams of THC.
The bill would also prevent manufacturers from creating products that could be perceived as targeting minors, such as gummy candies.
Opponents of the bill voiced concerns that edibles would expose children to marijuana, even with the age restriction limiting who can be sold products.
"There has to be a certain level of parental responsibility or adult responsibility in the home, just like Tide pods. We have to keep our laundry soap out of the reach of kids now, as well," Rep. Gretchen Dobervich, D-Fargo, countered.
Status: Approved in a 88-5 vote, Senate vote upcoming
What it proposes: This bill would increase the amount of of marijuana "qualifying" patient or caregiver to purchase a slightly higher amount of marijuana products. The current law allows for 2.5 ounces of dried marijuana leaves or flowers within a 30-day period and 7.5 ounces in their possession. The bill would allow the purchase of 6 ounces for certain patients.
Status: Approved in a 89-4 vote, Senate vote upcoming
What it proposes: This bill would add 13 conditions to the current list of qualifying medical conditions. Those conditions are:
- Anorexia nervosa
- Bulimia nervosa
- Anxiety disorder
- Tourette syndrome
- Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
- Interstitial cystitis
- Opioid use disorder
- Opioid withdrawal
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Autism spectrum disorder