North Dakota: Advocates Turn In Signatures For 2018 Adult Use Initiative

NORTH DAKOTA: Proponents of a statewide ballot initiative to legalize the adult use of marijuana in North Dakota on Monday turned in nearly 19,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office in an effort to place the measure before voters this November. State officials must certify 13,452 of those signatures in order to qualify the measure for the 2018 electoral ballot.

The voter-initiated measure, organized by the grass-roots group Legalize North Dakota, legalizes the possession, use, and sale of cannabis, as well as the possession of marijuana paraphernalia, by those over the age of 21 and also expunges past marijuana convictions.

The voter-initiated measure, organized by the grass-roots group Legalize North Dakota, legalizes the possession, use, and sale of cannabis, as well as the possession of marijuana paraphernalia, by those over the age of 21 and also expunges past marijuana convictions.

The voter-initiated measure, organized by the grass-roots group Legalize North Dakota, legalizes the possession, use, and sale of cannabis, as well as the possession of marijuana paraphernalia, by those over the age of 21 and also expunges past marijuana convictions.

In 2016, nearly two-thirds of state voters approved a ballot measure regulating medical cannabis access. However, state officials have yet to make the program operational – with regulators now aiming to have licensed dispensaries up and running by June 2019. Activists have acknowledged that regulators’ failure to swiftly implement the 2016 measure was the impetus for the 2018 campaign.

State officials are expected to either verify or reject proponents’ signatures within 30 days. According to internal polling data commissioned by the Legalize North Dakota campaign, a plurality of voters back the measure.

Voters in Michigan will also be deciding this November on whether to legalize the adult use of marijuana, while voters in Utah and Missouri will be deciding on medical access measures.


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

North Dakota Awards Medical Marijuana Seed-to-Sale Tracking Contract To BioTrackTHC

NORTH DAKOTA: The North Dakota Department of Health, the government agency responsible for implementing the state’s voter-approved medical marijuana program, has awarded the contract to BioTrackTHC to develop and implement the state’s medical marijuana seed-to-sale traceability system.  The system will allow designated regulatory officials to enforce compliance across the state’s marijuana seed-to-sale supply chain, providing transparency and accountability over the licensed medical marijuana compassion centers.

“As we begin implementing North Dakota’s medical marijuana program, the state needed a medical marijuana tracking system to assist in implementing a well-regulated program,” said Jason Wahl Director of the Division of Medical Marijuana within the North Dakota Department of Health. “We are excited to begin working with BioTrackTHC who has a successful record in implementing traceability systems in other states.”

Usable marijuana will be available to qualifying patients who have a debilitating medical condition as defined by state law and are registered through the Division of Medical Marijuana.  State law allows for the registration of up to 10 compassion centers: two (2) grower/manufacturing facilities and eight (8) dispensaries in the state.

“We are grateful to have the opportunity to partner with the Department of Health and are excited to collaborate with them to ensure the program gets off the ground transparently, with sound design, and on time,” said Patrick Vo, President and CEO of BioTrackTHC. “We look forward to playing a key role in bringing safe access to medical marijuana for all North Dakotans through a proven and secure track and trace system.”

BioTrackTHC now holds eight (8) state-level government tracking contracts as well as one (1) with the city of Arcata, CA., making them a leading provider of government traceability systems in marijuana.  Having never missed a government traceability system deployment deadline and having demonstrated experience in implementing and maintaining both government and private-sector marijuana seed-to-sale systems in medical and recreational markets, the company looks forward to applying its expertise to maximize the success of another emerging market. BioTrackTHC’s goal is to help the industry to thrive by demonstrating that marijuana programs can operate with transparency and accountability, providing peace of mind to stakeholders and ensuring safety for the patients and the community.

 

Questions, Answers About North Dakota And Medical Marijuana

By Blake Nicholson, Associated Press

NORTH DAKOTA: With the pending signature of Gov. Doug Burgum, medical marijuana will become legal in North Dakota. Here’s a look at what’s next:

WHEN WILL IT BE AVAILABLE?

Within a year, according to state health officials who will regulate the system.

The health department expects five of every 1,000 North Dakotas to use medical marijuana, according to Deputy State Health Officer Arvy Smith. That’s based on the experience in Delaware, which uses a system similar to what North Dakota plans.

Kenan Bullinger, who directs North Dakota’s program, expects use to steadily rise. Again, that’s based on Delaware, where registered patient counts have risen from fewer than 50 the first year to more than 1,400 last year.

Neighboring Minnesota had plenty of growing pains with the medical marijuana program it approved in 2014. But Smith said Minnesota’s program is much more restrictive and not comparable. She said North Dakota will still look to Minnesota for expertise on processes and other issues.

WHO CAN USE IT?

People including minors with “debilitating medical conditions” can apply to the Health Department for a registry card that costs $50 per year. A doctor or nurse practitioner must authorize a hopeful patient. Cards can be revoked for misuse, and unsuccessful applicants have to wait a year to reapply.

State law lists 17 qualifying medical conditions, along with terminal illnesses. The Health Department will study adding others, but Fargo medical marijuana advocate Rilie Ray Morgan said he thinks the list is fairly comprehensive. Morgan headed last year’s initiative campaign that culminated with voters approving the drug.

WHAT KINDS OF POT CAN PEOPLE USE?

Capsules; a topical product for the skin or hair; a tincture solution; and a patch. Smoking it? Only if a doctor or nurse practitioner recommends that method.

Users also must follow various rules, such as not doing so in certain public places and not subjecting children to smoke or vapors.

Employers don’t have to allow medical marijuana in the workplace, and care facilities such as nursing homes can reasonably restrict its use.

WHERE DO I GET IT?

The Health Department plans to register two “compassion centers” to make medical marijuana and eight more centers to dispense it. There are numerous application criteria, including security measures, and big fees — $110,000 for a two-year certificate for manufacturing operations, and $90,000 for dispensaries. They’re subject to random inspections by Health Department staff.

Center “agents” — a catch-all term for center officials including owners, employees and investors — must have a drug-free criminal record, pay a $200 fee and undergo a background check.

Patients or their caregivers have to get the drug through a direct transaction, Bullinger said. That means it can be obtained at a dispensary, or a dispensary might set up its own direct delivery program, but it cannot be gotten through the mail or a third-party delivery company such as UPS or FedEx. North Dakotans also must purchase from a North Dakota dispensary — they can’t buy it in another state and bring it home.

CAN I HELP SOMEONE ELSE GET IT?

If you’re 21, if you have a drug-free criminal record, if you’ve applied to be a designated caregiver for a registered patient, if you’ve paid a $50 annual fee and if you’ve passed a criminal background check — then yes, you can.

HOW MUCH CAN I BUY?

No more than 2 1/2 ounces of dried leaves or flowers every 30 days, with no more than 3 ounces in possession at any one time. Users can’t have medical marijuana products with more than 2,000 milligrams of the intoxicant THC in a 30-day period.

Pediatric medical marijuana is limited to a maximum THC concentration of 6 percent.

Advocates question why lawmakers, not doctors, are regulating amounts.

Beth Collins, a lobbyist for the medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, said some patients will need more amounts of THC than others.

Smith and Bullinger said officials looked at limits in other states and consulted with the state crime lab on acceptable limits.

WHAT WILL IT COST?

Whatever the market says. The state won’t regulate pricing.

People can’t grow their own, either. That’s aimed at preventing medical marijuana from being used illegally, Smith said, but advocates say it bars patients from a potentially cheaper supply of the drug.

“I’m afraid of what medical cannabis is going to cost with the current program,” Morgan said.

In Minnesota, patient count hasn’t met projections, leading to losses for the state’s two manufacturers and exacerbating high prescription costs.

North Dakota law doesn’t require private insurers or government medical assistance programs to pay for medical marijuana.

HOW DO I KNOW IT’S SAFE?

It must be tested by the manufacturer or a certified laboratory for contaminants including pesticides and molds and to ensure THC levels are accurately labeled. The medical marijuana centers have to pay the testing costs.

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Follow Blake Nicholson on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/NicholsonBlake

Rules Set For North Dakota Medical Marijuana Program

By James MacPherson, Associated Press

NORTH DAKOTA: The Legislature on Thursday approved a set of rules to govern the use of medical marijuana in North Dakota, an uncomfortable compromise for many Republican lawmakers in the conservative state who were surprised that voters legalized it.
The Senate got the two-thirds majority vote needed to amend the citizen initiative, after the House did the same earlier this month.
GOP Gov. Doug Burgum said he would sign the legislation that establishes rules for the use of marijuana — including smoking it — as medicine for people who suffer from debilitating illnesses, including terminally ill patients.

“We want to make sure this product is available as the people have wished,” Burgum told reporters.

Fargo financial planner Rilie Ray Morgan headed the initiative campaign and said he and other backers are mostly satisfied with the new rules, but that another citizen initiative is possible if medical marijuana is not available in the state within the next year, as estimated by the state Health Department.  “If that doesn’t happen, there is going to be war,” he said.

Sixty-five percent of voters supported the measure in November, surprising lawmakers in the deeply conservative state and even the measure’s backers, who tried but failed to persuade the Legislature to legalize it two years ago.
The passage of the initiative sent the Health Department scrambling to solve a number of legal issues in connection with the medical marijuana law. The measure’s backers, though, accused regulators and the Legislature of attempting to add unwieldy restrictions, including one that would allow patients to smoke medical marijuana only if a physician finds that no other form of the drug, such as a low-THC extract, would help.

That provision was taken out but a doctor or now a nurse practitioner still must recommend smoking marijuana as medicine for people who suffer from some diseases. The bipartisan bill also removed provisions that would have allowed growing marijuana as medicine.  “This is a landmark piece of legislation,” GOP Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner told colleagues on the chamber floor. “We have gone where we have never gone before … and I think we have a piece of legislation that is as good as it could possibly be.

Morgan, who suffers from chronic back pain, said cutting the growing-your-own provision is still not acceptable.
“We’re about 80 percent happy with the way it turned out,” he said.

Five out of every 1,000 North Dakotans are expected to use medical marijuana when it’s available, a threshold needed to fund planned oversight of the program, the state Health Department has said.

The state will spend more than $1 million to oversee the medical marijuana program over the next two years. The program is expected to raise $1.6 million during the 2017-19 budget cycle that begins on July 1. The program is estimated to cost $3.2 million in the following two-year budget cycle, and would be self-supported through fees to patients, approved growers and dispensaries, health officials said.

Hemp, Inc. To Grow 3,000 Acres Of Industrial Hemp In North Carolina In 2017

NORTH CAROLINA:  Hemp, Inc. has informed its shareholders that its wholly owned subsidiary, Industrial Hemp Manufacturing, LLC, in Spring Hope, NC, has signed a Letter of Intent  with Mullen View Farms and one with John Finch Farms in North Carolina. According to the signed LOI with Mullen View Farms, IHM will purchase 1,000 acres of raw hemp that is to be harvested at various locations throughout eastern North Carolina, this year. The signed LOI with John Finch Farms stipulates IHM shall purchase 500 acres of raw hemp stock from John Finch Farms. As with Mullen View Farms, the raw hemp is to be harvested at various locations throughout eastern North Carolina, this year.

With these LOIs, Hemp, Inc. now have a little over 3,000 acres of hemp growing. “We are really excited to be working with Mullen View and John Finch Farms. Mullen View Farms owns a huge warehouse, where we currently store some of our kenaf bales, not too far from our industrial hemp processing facility and wants to grow an additional 30,000 acres of industrial hemp for us in the near future. John Finch Farms has grown 200 acres of kenaf (hibiscus cannabinus, a cousin plant to industrial hemp) for us already,” says David Schmitt, COO of Hemp, Inc.’s subsidiary, Industrial Hemp Manufacturing, LLC. Schmitt also mentioned John Finch received the National Supervisor of the Year Award, last year, during the NC Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts 71st Annual Meeting.

Bruce Perlowin, CEO of Hemp, Inc. said, “We are proud to collaborate with other American industrial hemp farmers as we now become part of the modern industrial hemp farming movement. This is a turning point for America and it’s a turning point for Hemp, Inc. Hemp, Inc. has the infrastructure in place to process millions of pounds of hemp fibers and stalks a year, on a commercial level. Our 70,000 square foot industrial hemp processing facility, on over 9 acres in Spring Hope, North Carolina, is the only one of this magnitude in North America. The industrial hemp crop is part of history in the making and it is something that will prove to be lucrative not only for the farmers in North Carolina but for Hemp, Inc. as well.”

Health Insurers Won’t Cover Medical Marijuana In North Dakota

NORTH DAKOTA: North Dakota voters overwhelmingly approved the legalization of medical marijuana, and lawmakers are grappling with launching the program. But patients are about to learn that legalization does not mean insurance will cover the cost.

Major health insurers in North Dakota have said they will not provide coverage for medical marijuana, which voters approved in the November election by a margin of almost 64 percent, citing what they say is inadequate evidence of its effectiveness.

“We don’t cover it in Minnesota nor will we in North Dakota,” said Greg Bury, senior manager for public relations at Medica. “We don’t believe the efficacy has yet been established.”

Medica’s policy, Bury said, is to “look for evidence-based literature and studies that demonstrate safety, effectiveness and effect on health outcomes.

Thus far, he said, Medica believes that evidence is lacking to justify coverage of medical marijuana.

The positions of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, the state’s largest private health insurer, and the Sanford Health Plan are similar — reflecting a stance taken by the industry elsewhere in states that allow medical marijuana, including Minnesota.

Because the dispensation of medical marijuana is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, health insurers encounter significant obstacles in providing coverage, said Andrea Dineen, a spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.

“Like most health insurance companies across the nation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota does not cover drugs that are not FDA approved,” she said in a statement.

To gain FDA approval, Dineen added, drugs must undergo extensive testing to prove safety and effectiveness. “This has not occurred for medical marijuana,” she said.

Similarly, the Sanford Health Plan does not cover medical marijuana, but a spokeswoman said she couldn’t elaborate on the reasons.

The lack of coverage for medical marijuana extends to many public health insurers.

A bill before the North Dakota Legislature, for example, would prohibit coverage for medical marijuana under the state’s workers’ compensation program, administered by Workforce Safety & Insurance, or WSI.

WSI’s advisory board will review the legislation and decide whether to support or oppose the bill, but the agency has some practical questions about how it would provide coverage, Clare Carlson, WSI’s deputy director said.

“A number of agencies and organizations in North Dakota have similar questions,” Carlson added. “There are many details to be addressed before we can effectively manage a program that includes marijuana.”

One of those questions, he added, is how to pay for coverage. “Currently marijuana is illegal at the federal level,” Carlson said. Also, dosages vary greatly and there is no established system to send payment and even a question as to who to pay, he said.

After Oil, Ex-North Dakota Indian leader Tex Hall Forms Marijuana Firm

NORTH DAKOTA:  The former chairman of a North Dakota Indian nation that controls one-third of the state’s oil output has formed a marijuana company to help tribes around the United States produce and distribute the drug.

Tex “Red-Tipped Arrow” Hall, who until last fall led the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara (MHA) Nation, has formed Native American Organics LLC with California-based Wright Family Organics LLC, a medical marijuana company, the companies said in a statement.

Native American Organics said it will help Indian tribes grow and distribute marijuana to wherever legally possible, as well as offer expertise on hydroponics and genetics and advice on how best to work with state and federal officials.

House Defeats Bill To Legalize North Dakota Medical Marijuana

NORTH DAKOTA:  More than two-thirds of the North Dakota State House voted against a bill that would have legalized medical marijuana with a prescription.

House Bill 1430, which came to the House with a “do not pass” recommendation from the House Human Services Committee, failed 26-67, with one representative absent and not voting.

Three lawmakers spoke in favor of the bill, and three spoke against it.

Human Services Committee Chairman Rep. Robin Weisz, R-Hurdsfield, spoke first. He said that while he might feel different if he had a sick child, he could not support HB 1430, as it was written.

 

Hemp Seeds Seized At US-Canada Border In Latest Challenge To Fledgling Industry

NORTH DAKOTA: Hundreds of pounds of industrial hemp seeds bound from Canada to Colorado have been seized by federal authorities in North Dakota, marking the latest bump along the road to legalization of marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin.

At the center of the dispute is hemp activist Tom McClain. Armed with a copy of last year’s federal Farm Bill, which allowed states to permit hemp cultivation for research and development, he set off for MacGregor, Manitoba, and bought 350 pounds of seeds used to grow a strain known as X-59 or Hemp Nut.

Hemp is legal in Canada, and North Dakota is one of 15 states with laws that allow limited hemp production. However, under the Farm Bill, importing hemp seeds requires permission from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

McClain’s seeds were confiscated Saturday at the border crossing in Hansboro, North Dakota, after he says he declared the seven bags in his trunk. McClain, however, has not been charged with a crime.