**Can You Smoke Weed in Public in North Dakota? **
Medical marijuana is legal in North Dakota, while recreational marijuana is illegal. However, possession of less than 0.5 ounces of marijuana by adults aged 21 years and older for personal use has been decriminalized in the state. It attracts a penalty of up to $1,000 without the possibility of imprisonment or having it on a person’s criminal record. Furthermore, the state punishes public ingestion of any amount of marijuana with possible jail time.
Medical marijuana was legalized in 2016 after North Dakota voters approved Initiated Measure 5 during the 2016 elections. Initiated Measure 5, also known as North Dakota Compassionate Care Act, allows persons diagnosed with specific medical conditions and registered on the North Dakota Medical Marijuana Program to purchase and possess up to 3 ounces (85 grams) of medical marijuana. Such persons can possess up to 2,000 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana concentrate or medical cannabinoid products in a 30-day period.
North Dakota voters passed Initiated Measure 5 to legalize medical marijuana in 2016. The law allows the Division of Medical Marijuana under the North Dakota Department of Health to license marijuana manufacturing facilities and marijuana dispensaries called compassionate centers. In 2017, the state legislature amended the law to remove the home cultivation of marijuana from its provisions.
In 2019, the North Dakota Governor, Doug Burgum, signed House Bill 1050 to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana in the state. HB 1050 reclassified possession of less than 0.5 ounces (14 grams) of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia from misdemeanor to criminal infraction. It no longer attracts imprisonment but a fine of up to $1,00. The bill also reduced the penalties for the possession of larger amounts of marijuana.
In 2021, House Bill 1420 was introduced in the North Dakota House. It would have allowed adults aged 21 and above to possess and use up to 1 ounce of marijuana. Also, it would have permitted the licensing of marijuana businesses to cultivate, process, and sell marijuana. However, the bill was rejected in the North Dakota Senate.
In 2022, House Bill 1501 was introduced to the North Dakota House. It sought to impose a 15% tax on recreational marijuana if and when it is legalized in the state. However, it was rejected in the North Dakota Senate. In the 2021-2022 legislative session, House Concurrent Resolution 3031 (HCR 3031) was also introduced in the North Dakota House. HCR 3031 sought to place a ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana in the 2022 election. If approved by voters, it would legalize the possession, sale, and use of marijuana for recreational purposes by adults aged 21 and older in the state, effective from August 1, 2023. The Resolution, however, failed in the House.
A separate ballot measure was initiated in 2022 by the New Approach North Dakota organization (New Approach ND) to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. They were able to garner the 25,000 signatures required to put the legalization of adult-use marijuana on the 2022 ballot. The ballot measure called Measure 2, was similar in language to the rejected 2021 HB 1420. The measure directed regulators to implement an adult-use marijuana program by October 1, 2023. However, Measure 2 was rejected by North Dakota voters in the 2022 elections by a vote of 55% - 45%.
The marijuana law timeline in North Dakota is as follows:
Marijuana is illegal at the federal level and is listed as a Schedule I drug in the 1971 U.S. Controlled Substances Act. However, there have been efforts in recent years to legalize marijuana and remove it from the controlled substances list. In April 2022, the U.S. Congress passed HR 3617, called the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE Act). The Act will remove marijuana from the list of scheduled substances and legalize the manufacture, distribution, and possession of marijuana. However, the bill has not been scheduled for a hearing.
Furthermore, another marijuana bill was introduced in the Senate. The S. 4591 - Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act was sent to the Senate Committee on Finance for deliberations. The Act has yet to progress from the Committee. Also, the U.S. President, President Joe Biden, announced three steps for Federal Marijuana Reforms on October 6, 2022. He announced pardons for all persons convicted under federal law of simple possession of marijuana in the country. President Biden also encouraged governors to do the same for those convicted under state laws. The president asked for a review of how marijuana is scheduled under federal laws. The U.S. Attorney General and the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services are to initiate the administrative process for the review.
Yes, registered medical marijuana patients can use marijuana in North Dakota. However, using cannabis for recreational purposes is illegal. Depending on their healthcare providers' recommendations, registered medical marijuana patients may use up to 7 ounces of medical marijuana. Such persons must be diagnosed with qualifying medical conditions as listed in the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act and certified by North Dakota-licensed healthcare providers for medical marijuana use.
Individuals diagnosed with at least one of the following qualifying medical conditions can use medical cannabis in North Dakota:
As of 2023, recreational marijuana sale in North Dakota is illegal. Per the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act, registered medical marijuana patients and caregivers can purchase medical marijuana, marijuana concentrates, and cannabinoids from licensed dispensaries (compassion centers) in the state. They must present their North Dakota Medical Marijuana Registry Identification cards at the dispensaries before they can purchase medical cannabis. Their cards specify the maximum amount of marijuana they can purchase within a 30-day period.
Compassion centers began operations in 2017 after the Division of Medical Marijuana released its operational guidelines. They are permitted to sell marijuana in the following forms:
Compassionate centers may only sell dried leaves and flowers to medical marijuana cardholders, provided it is specified in their cards. Edibles and marijuana-infused drinks are illegal in North Dakota.
North Dakota legalized medical marijuana in 2016 and decriminalized the possession of less than 0.5 ounces (14 grams) of marijuana in 2019. Penalties for possessing and cultivating larger amounts of marijuana were also reduced. The following are the marijuana-related penalties in the state:
Sale or possession with intent to distribute any amount of marijuana is a felony punishable by up to 5 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000. Sales of hashish or concentrates is a felony with a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment and up to a $20,000 fine. The sale of marijuana to a minor or hiring, inducing, or soliciting a minor to sell marijuana is a felony punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $20,000. Furthermore, sales of marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in jail and up to a $20,000 fine.
Cultivation of marijuana carries the same penalties as possession of marijuana. It is also classified as a misdemeanor.
Consumption of marijuana in public is prohibited in North Dakota. Ingesting or smoking any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days of incarceration and up to a $1,500 fine. Ingesting hashish is also a misdemeanor with the same penalties.
The manufacture, sale, possession, or use of marijuana paraphernalia is prohibited in North Dakota. The North Dakota Compassionate Care Act defines marijuana paraphernalia as equipment and materials used for planting, harvesting, preparing, processing, testing, packaging, storing, inhaling, ingesting, or introducing marijuana into the body. It includes water pipes, scales, carburetion tubes, smoking masks, bongs, chillums, and roach clips. Marijuana paraphernalia-related penalties include:
Driving while intoxicated with marijuana is illegal in North Dakota, even by medical marijuana cardholders. It has the same penalties as those for driving while under the influence of alcohol in the state. A first-time offender can be penalized with suspension of their driver's license for up to 180 days and a fine of up to $750. A second offense within 7 years can be penalized by up to 10 days imprisonment, up to a $1,500 fine, and suspension of license for up to 2 years. Subsequent offenses within a 7-year period are punishable by up to a year of incarceration, 2 years of probation, suspension of license for up to 3 years, and court-enforced sobriety programs.
All marijuana-related convictions in North Dakota require offenders to undergo drug addiction evaluations. Also, first-time offenders may be given conditional releases and placed on probation. After their probations, the charges are expunged from their criminal records. Moreover, driver's licenses of minor offenders may be suspended for up to 6 months.
Marijuana was used for recreational and medicinal purposes for decades in North Dakota. But in 1931, the state enacted a bill to outlaw the plant, and it remained illegal in the state till 2016, when the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act was enacted. Before Measure 5 was approved in 2016, the North Dakota House had rejected House Bill 1430 in 2015. HB 1430 was introduced in the House to legalize medical marijuana and has similar provisions as those of Measure 5. It was rejected by a vote of 67 to 25.
The provisions of Measure 5 as approved by North Dakota voters permitted persons with specific medical conditions and who have been registered by the state to grow and use marijuana to treat or alleviate their conditions. However, in 2017 the North Dakota legislature amended Measure 5 with Senate Bill 2344. SB 2344 removed the provision for the home cultivation of marijuana by registered patients, and it also mandated recommendations from health providers for smoking marijuana by registered patients. The amendment extended legal protection to medical marijuana patients, healthcare providers, caregivers, and businesses.
In 2018, Legalize North Dakota (Legalize ND) gathered enough votes to place recreational marijuana legalization on the ballot in the 2018 elections. The initiative, called Measure 3, sought to legalize recreational marijuana for adults aged 21 years and above in North Dakota. It was defeated on the ballot by 59.45% - 40.55%.
In 2019, House Bill 1417 was enacted to permit registered patients with debilitating cancer to purchase larger amounts of marijuana. Another bill passed in 2019 was HB 1519, which expanded the list of qualifying debilitating medical conditions.
Some of the restrictions on marijuana in North Dakota are: