Consequences of Getting a Medical Card in North Dakota

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Benefits of Having a Medical Marijuana Card in North Dakota

In North Dakota, medical marijuana cardholders enjoy the following benefits:

Legal Protection

Per Section 19-24.1-32 of the North Dakota Century Code, registered qualifying patients and designated caregivers are not subject to arrest or prosecution for purchasing, using, or possessing usable marijuana for medical purposes. The possession and medical use of cannabis are lawful under the state's law, provided medical marijuana cardholders act by the provisions of the state's Code and stay within the state-approved purchase and possession limits. However, patients' home-growing of cannabis is not covered under state law as it is illegal. The only way patients can access marijuana products legally is to purchase them from state-licensed dispensaries. Depending on the amount involved, any medical cannabis patient in North Dakota caught cultivating marijuana for personal use is charged with a Class A or Class B felony punishable by severe penalties.

In North Dakota, registered cannabis patients are not required to always go around with their medical marijuana cards unless they are in possession of lawfully acquired cannabis products. This also applies to driving within the state with cannabis products in the vehicle. In addition to their medical cannabis cards, patients may also hold government-issued photo IDs for identification purposes when stopped by law enforcement officers for questioning. Recreational marijuana remains illegal in North Dakota. So, anyone caught in possession of marijuana in the state without a medical marijuana card risks paying fines and/or incarceration, depending on the quantity of cannabis involved.

Access for Minors

Minors under the age of 19 are allowed to participate in the North Dakota Medical Marijuana Program and can legally access medical cannabis to treat their debilitating conditions. However, they are not eligible to consume or purchase flowers and dried leaves of any product containing more than 6% THC concentration.

Downsides of Getting a Medical Marijuana Card in North Dakota

The downsides of having a North Dakota registry identification card are listed below:

Firearm Prohibition

While law-abiding and eligible residents of North Dakota can legally carry firearms, it is unlawful for medical marijuana patients in the state to own or possess guns. Federal law, under the Gun Control Act of 1968, prohibits illegal users of controlled substances from bearing firearms and ammunition. Note that marijuana, regardless of its medicinal uses, is considered a Schedule I controlled drug under federal law. It is highly risky for North Dakota medical marijuana cardholders to own firearms as no state law protects their rights to gun ownership.

Driving Restrictions

North Dakota medical marijuana cardholders are prohibited from applying for or obtaining commercial driver's licenses (CDLs) or operating commercial vehicles in the state. This complies with federal law that bans having a CDL and a medical cannabis card at the same time. Typically, commercial vehicle drivers are subjected to rigorous drug testing. Being a registered medical cannabis patient in North Dakota is not an acceptable excuse for testing positive for THC in such a test. Any commercial vehicle driver who tests positive for cannabis during a drug screening may lose their CDL.

The North Dakota Century Code, Chapter 39-08, prohibits driving under the influence (DUI) of cannabis or other THC-infused products. A driver who has a THC concentration of 5 nanograms or more per milliliter of blood is considered to be under the influence of cannabis in the state. The consequences of driving under the influence of marijuana in North Dakota include license suspension, fines, jail sentences, and/or mandatory drug education. These penalties are more severe for repeat offenses.

Annual Renewal

Unless specified otherwise on a patient's written certification for medical cannabis, a North Dakota registry identification card (medical cannabis card) is only valid for one year. Registry cardholders must renew their cards annually, a process that must be initiated at least 45 days before the current cards expire. Else, their access to legal marijuana products will be interrupted. However, this process comes with some inconveniences and financial costs.

Cardholders must visit their healthcare providers for re-evaluation and obtain new written certification for the medical use of cannabis. This consultation, whether in person or via telehealth services, typically costs patients between $50 and $160, depending on the medical provider and the complexity of patients' medical conditions. Patients who have caregivers must also have them renew their registry IDs. The cost of renewing a North Dakota medical marijuana card, a $25 fee, is also borne by the cardholder.

Employment Restrictions

North Dakota medical cannabis law does not provide adequate protection for employees of organizations who are medical marijuana patients. As stipulated in the state's Compassionate Care Act (North Dakota Century Code, Section 19-24.1-34), employers may discipline employees for consuming cannabis in the workplace. Similarly, disciplinary actions can be taken against employees working with cannabis (THC) in their system or working while under the influence of marijuana, not minding that they are legal medical cannabis patients.

Nothing in North Dakota's law requires employers to accommodate medical marijuana patients. Employers can maintain drug-free workplace policies and may choose to adhere to federal laws where state and federal laws conflict. They are also at liberty to conduct drug tests as a condition of hiring new employees or retaining the current ones. While a patient's medical marijuana card may not show up during a background check, in North Dakota, an employer is not under obligation to employ anyone who tests positive for cannabis in a drug test.

Federal Prohibitions

Generally, it is illegal for registered medical marijuana patients to consume or possess cannabis on any federal land in North Dakota. Anyone caught doing so commits a federal offense, and the consequences are usually severe. Their North Dakota medical marijuana cards will not be able to absolve them from prosecution. Being a North Dakota medical marijuana cardholder limits a person's chance of success when applying for federal employment. Similarly, any federal employee who has a medical cannabis card may lose their job if caught.

Federally assisted housing in the state is considered federal property as they are regulated by federal law under the administration of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In line with federal law, the HUD prohibits signing on medical cannabis patients for federally subsidized housing everywhere, including North Dakota. If a person enrolls in the state's Medical Marijuana Program after moving into federally assisted housing, they must not cultivate, possess, or consume cannabis there.

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