Just as a petition to legalize marijuana was approved by the Secretary of State, state lawmakers proposed a bill.
Wednesday, KX News broke down House Bill 1420. Now, we’re discussing how it compares to the initiated measure, currently in need of about 27,000 signatures.
“People are really done with the policing of this plant, the wasting of tax dollars, and they want the right to grow their own,” shared Jody Vetter, Chairperson for the North Dakota Freedom of Cannabis Act.
She might be right. KX News took two social media polls. A small Facebook poll found 84.6% support legalizing recreational marijuana and on Instagram, 78% are in support.
“That really just confirms the lies that we’ve been told for the last 80 years about this plant,” Vetter said.
That’s why the North Dakota Cannabis Caucus is working on gathering signatures on an initiated measure for the second time. If a little over 3% of the population signs in the next year, it lands on the 2022 June ballot.
“We just really want to end the prohibition of the plant cannabis,” Vetter added.
If passed, North Dakotans over the age of 21 would be allowed to grow and possess marijuana for personal use.
These measures have been a consistent theme for a few years now. That’s why Bismarck Rep. Jason Dockter says the state wanted to prepare.
“People can have personal choice. I personally don’t smoke it. I don’t agree with it, but I also know our job as lawmakers is to make good policy and I think we need to head-off an initiated measure and get something on the books before it comes to the voters and we get something that would not be a good fit for the state of North Dakota,” the Republican Representative told KX News.
The biggest difference between House Bill 1420 and the measure is the bill keeps a criminal penalty for possession of more than an ounce of marijuana, or any cannabis bought outside of a state-approved dispensary.
“I basically say less than one ounce is no harm, no foul. Anything above that is the same regulations currently that we have,” Dockter said.
Another stark difference is that the measure allows for the personal growth of 12 cannabis plants.
“To keep prices reasonable and to fight off the black market, that really, we all want to avoid,” Vetter explained.
And it’s not one or the other. The bill could pass and the measure, next June.
Dockter explained, “If House Bill 1420 would pass, and the initiated measure continues on and they pass, anything that is not passed in [century] code, would supersede.”
That means everything in the bill stands, with the addition of the growing allowance from the measure.
Vetter says she can’t support the House bill because of the criminal penalties it enforces for simple possession. Otherwise, she says it’s some progress.
House Bill 1420 was just introduced in the House on Wednesday. It now heads to committee.
Vetter is confident North Dakotans are ready for legalization.