Voters in South Dakota, Montana to cast ballots deciding on legal cannabis

Published: Oct. 28, 2020 at 8:34 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Cannabis laws may be rapidly changing in the Upper Midwest after the general election.

While legal weed isn’t on the ballot in North Dakota, our neighbors to the south and west will voice their opinion on the plant.

Cannabis connoisseurs have an easy time finding the chronic in Denver. Colorado voters planted that seed in 2012, approving a ballot measure. Legalization came to full bloom in 2014.

Colorado Cannabis Tours ( CEO Michael Eymer says people from across the mountain west and southwest come to get on the bus.

“Generally from those who are around us. What I can say to expect is anywhere the laws are harsher than yours, and is adjacent to you,” said Eymer.

North Dakota’s laws may soon become harsher than Montana’s, where voters have the option of approving I-190, legalizing recreational marijuana. That may draw some North Dakotan’s across the border.

“Would you want to buy your booze as moonshine? Or would you rather go to the liquor store? People want to abide by the laws when reasonable laws are given as an option,” said Eymer.

“We get a lot of visitors from North Dakota for various reasons, just like North Dakota gets a lto of shoppers and tourists from Montana, so crossing over the border for that reason would not surprise me,” said Glendive Mayor Jerry Jimison.

Glendive Mayor Jerry Jimison says three medical dispensaries already operate in Dawson County. He says he expects them to get into the recreational business if voters approve the measure.

“That would be my guess I think that’s why they are here and doing business is they’re hoping for future expansion,” said Jimison.

In South Dakota, voters can approve recreational marijuana in a constitutional amendment, medical marijuana in a ballot initiative, or both.

North Dakota has 8 medical dispensaries and 4,000 patients. State leaders say they’re ready to help our neighbors to the south if medical is approved.

“We’d be happy to provide any information or share materials that we had used such as applications for manufacturing facilities and dispensaries, just to kind of give them an idea or help them in their process as well,” said Jason Wahl, ND Division of Medical Marijuana.

But if either state approves recreational, our state’s medical marijuana director says patients need to be sure not to bring any back. Card holders are only protected if they bought product from a North Dakota dispensary.

Police in Cheyenne, Wyoming, which is about 45 minutes from dispensaries in Ft. Collins, say they haven’t seen people bringing the plant back across the border too often.

“It’s never been an issue here, really. The people that have it, a lot of them, they have it here. They didn’t even go to Colorado. They’re just smoking marijuana here. It’s not that big of an issue for us,” said Officer David Inman, Cheyenne Police Department.

Eymer says while marijuana is often just an extra bit of euphoria in a trip to Colorado, not the driving purpose.

“In the beginning, when out company started, we certainly saw a huge spike in tourism from all over the world. What started for us as tourism, has quickly turned into the greater hospitality industry,” said Eymer.

If Montana and South Dakota legalize recreational marijuana, North Dakotan’s would have a hazy option on vacation, but those around states with the option say life here wouldn’t change much otherwise.

In addition to South Dakota and Montana, marijuana is on the ballot in Arizona, New Jersey and Mississippi.

Arizona and New Jersey voters are deciding on recreational, while Mississippians are deciding between competing medical proposals.

All the video used in this story was shot before the coronavirus pandemic.

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