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.

North Dakota Lawmakers Approve Medical Marijuana Regulations

By Associated Press

NORTH DAKOTA: The North Dakota Legislature has approved a comprehensive measure that regulates the state’s voter-approved medical marijuana initiative.

The Senate got the needed two-thirds majority on Thursday to amend the citizen initiative. The House did the same earlier this month.

The bill now heads to Gov. Doug Burgum for his signature.

The measure, called the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act, won 65 percent voter approval in November. It allows the use of marijuana as medicine for people who suffer from debilitating illnesses.

Fargo financial planner Rilie Ray Morgan headed the initiative campaign. He says he is mostly satisfied with the new rules but another citizen initiative is possible if medical marijuana is not available in the state within the next year.

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.

The Expectations Of The Legal Cannabis Market After Elections

MAINE: In California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine, voters decided that recreational cannabis use is now legal. Now as for Arizona, it was the only state that rejected the proposal. Making it four of the five states, where the proposal of legalization of cannabis for recreational use were approved. Companies in this sector profiting from the growing demand, views this as a highly positive development for the legal cannabis industry, as it may bring billions of dollars to the industry and to the states themselves.

District of Columbia, along with other 8 states now recognizes recreational marijuana use as a legal practice for adults. Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota assed ballot measures legalizing medical marijuana use only.  California is of course the most populated state and the largest market for cannabis. California Lt. Gov. and former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, said the proposition could generate up to $1 billion a year in tax revenue, as well as $100 million in saved taxpayer money on an annual basis.

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.