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420 with CNW — Signature Collection Can Begin After North Dakota Cannabis Legalization Ballot Initiative Gains Official Approval

Cannabis News Wire, Media Partners

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Michael Howe, North Dakota’s secretary of state, recently gave the green light for the circulation of a petition aiming to legalize marijuana. If approved, the measure would allow adults aged 21 and older to grow, process, use and sell cannabis. Additionally, it would establish a regulatory body to oversee marijuana-related entities within the state.

The proposal also includes specific regulations concerning processing and production, as well as restrictions on usage, such as in vehicles and public spaces, and provisions for home cultivation.

To qualify for inclusion on the ballot, supporters of the petition must gather a minimum of 15,582 signatures by April 25 next year. Should they meet this deadline by July 8 this year, the legislation will be put to a vote in November’s general election. However, if the required signatures are collected after this date but before next year’s deadline, the legislation will be deferred to the next statewide election, anticipated to occur in 2026.

An advertisement posted on Indeed reveals that advocates of the proposal are seeking North Dakotans to assist in petition circulation across various cities, including Dickinson, Bismarck, Devils Lake, Grand Forks, Fargo, Jamestown, Williston and Minot.

Spearheading the initiative is Steve Bakken, a former mayor of Bismarck and current Burleigh County commissioner. Bakken underlined the need for more efficient use of resources, particularly in the fight against illegal drugs and substances such as fentanyl. He also emphasized the group’s goal of averting the possible adoption of a badly written initiative.

In previous years, voters in the state have rejected similar measures to legalize cannabis, with 55% opposing the proposal in 2022 and an even larger margin against it in 2018. Despite these setbacks, in 2021, the state’s House passed legislation aimed at legalizing and taxing recreational cannabis. However, these efforts were thwarted by the GOP-led senate.

Voters approved medical cannabis in 2016, leading to the establishment of a state-run program that currently serves about 10,000 patients. Additionally, the state’s Pardon Advisory Board introduced a new procedure to streamline pardons for minor cannabis offenses in 2019, resulting in 100 pardons by Governor Doug Burgum.

Currently, 24 states have legalized recreational cannabis, with Ohio being the most recent to do so through a ballot initiative last year. Additionally, similar initiatives are being carried out in other states. Florida is scheduled to vote on a ballot measure in November, and there are active signature-collection campaigns in states including South Dakota, Nebraska and Arkansas.

The opportunity for voters in North Dakota to end marijuana prohibition will likely be watched by industry companies such as Canopy Growth Corp. (NASDAQ: CGC) (TSX: WEED) because the enactment of a law creating a marijuana market would give residents the choice to consume marijuana for recreational purposes much like it is happening in other states around the country.

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