House passes recreational marijuana bill

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 11:07 AM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The North Dakota House of Representatives passed a bill that paves the way for recreational marijuana with significant restrictions.

With a 56-38 vote, the House passed what they call the best option for legalizing adult-use in North Dakota.

HB 1420 has undergone dramatic changes over the past few days, including removing the plant from the Controlled Substances Act.

North Dakota lawmakers are trying to expand recreational marijuana.

Where some legislators see it as giving in to pressure from other states, others see it as protecting consumers and businesses.

Part of the motivation wasn’t because of lawmakers wanting legalization. Rather, they were concerned a ballot initiative may decide the laws for them.

“There’s a reason ballot initiatives are called ‘the policy of last resort,’ and it’s not out of malice or anything. But when you do something by ballot initiative, especially something this complicated, it never ends well,” said Chairman of Legalize ND Dave Owen.

If it becomes law, recreational use will remain heavily restricted.

Anyone at least 21 years of age can buy up to 20 grams every two weeks, and purchases will be tracked.

At first, the product would be sold at pre-established medicinal dispensaries, which are opening across the state. The bill only allows cannabis to be used at home, but it can’t be grown there.

It also can’t be used where someone else can inhale it, including children who live in that home.

“I have a rude awakening for all of us: if it’s not good for teens, what makes it good and safe for adults? Our youth only mirror what they see from adults around them,” Rep. Bill Tveit, R-Hazen, said.

But supporting lawmakers said the bill is meant to be protective for consumers and businesses, as well as avoid black markets making the product harmful.

Shortly after it passed, the House also passed a decriminalization bill, increasing the legal amount a person can possess from half an ounce to one once without legal penalty.

House members said this is meant to be a back-up bill if HB 1420 doesn’t pass the Senate.

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