Committee discusses changing initiative measures

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BISMARCK, N.D. - The state constitution allows ordinary people to help make laws. That's just how the medical marijuana bill came about, which voters passed.

But a state committee says changes need to be made to the initiative process.

Nothing was voted on yet, but the committee made up of members of the state house and senate, as well as people from around the state discussed possible changes to getting initiated measures on the ballot.

Measure 5 legalized the medical use of marijuana for conditions like cancer, AIDS, and glaucoma. State lawmakers are now saying that because the way the bill was written caused problems when it came to making it law.

"That bill which was voted on and passed by the people didn't decriminalize marijuana, something that had to happen in order for it to pass. So had that sponsoring committee had access to legislative council, that language would've been fixed before the voters voted on it,” said Rep Scott Louser, R-Minot.

Representative Louser is proposing that all measures go to the legislature for initial review and if the measure passes there then it would not have to go on a ballot for people to vote on. He admits it's not a perfect solution though.

"The proposal I had would potentially increase the time limit for a bill that went through the legislature and failed, but still wanted to go to the ballot. It would take approximately a year,” said Louser.

If the measure was to fail in the legislature then it would go on a ballot to be voted on during an election. Some think this would defeat the purpose of ballot measures.

Waylon: "To reduce that by forcing those things to go through the legislature, basically takes what the founders intent was and reduces it to nothing and tears it up and throws it away,” said meeting attendee Waylon Hedegaard.

But until something is decided, every option is still on the table. The commission won't meet again until March.