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North Dakota group gathers signatures in attempt to get recreational marijuana on 2022 ballot

Published: May. 21, 2022 at 2:25 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The legalization of recreational marijuana may end up on the November ballot after the petition format was approved late last month. Now, the sponsoring group is gathering signatures.

For years, North Dakotans have considered the issue of legalizing recreational marijuana. Residents have opinions across the board.

“I think, you know with regulation, people should be able to choose what they want to do. And if they are practicing whatever they want to do safely, that’s fine by me,” said Bismarck resident Romeo Norris.

“I don’t have no opinion on it,” said Bismarck resident Mike Roll.

Others said off-camera that they’re against it.

Now, sponsoring committee New Approach North Dakota is working to put marijuana on the November 2022 ballot by collecting 15,582 voter signatures by July 11.

“It’s going good. We have internal metrics and quotas we manage, and we are at or above all of our metrics,” said New Approach North Dakota campaign manager David Owen.

The language of the proposed measure is similar to a 2021 bill that passed the North Dakota House but failed in the state Senate after senators like Oley Larsen spoke out.

“It’s the citizens of North Dakota that’s going to vote this in. But it is not our responsibility to do the best we can with this because there ain’t nothing good about this,” said Republican State Senator representing District 3 Oley Larsen at the 2021 Senate Floor Session discussing HB1420.

Recreational marijuana appeared before and was rejected by North Dakota voters in 2018. Another measure to get the issue on the ballot in 2020 was suspended due to COVID-19.

“So, the biggest difference between now and 2018, and that’s the one I want to talk about because that’s the one people are familiar with, is this is restricted, regulated, controlled, legal marijuana. This is a marijuana program that is very, very similar to the one that passed the North Dakota State House,” said Owen.

David Owen says the bill has taken lessons from other middle-America states like South Dakota.

New Approach ND is collecting signatures in Bismarck, Fargo, Grand Forks and Minot.

Montana voters elected to legalize recreational marijuana in 2020 and it became available for purchase to adults on January 1 this year.

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