BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota voters will have the chance to legalize marijuana this November, according to the Associated Press. Secretary of State Al Jaeger announced on Monday that marijuana advocates had obtained the required signatures to submit a measure on the ballot for the upcoming election through the Legalize ND campaign.
At least 13,452 signatures are needed on petitions in order to be placed on an election ballot. The campaign to legalize marijuana submitted a total of 17,695 signatures, with 14,637 confirmed as valid signatures.
If the measure is passed by voters, North Dakota would legalize marijuana for adults 21 years of age and older. Anyone in violation of the law by selling the drug to minors would be treated in the same manner as someone selling alcohol to minors. Minors in possession of the drug would also be subject to laws regarding underage drinking.
Leader of the Legalize ND campaign, David Owen, told the press that they anticipated the announcement. "We expected it. I'm just glad Al Jaeger confirmed it." Owen says that he doesn't use marijuana, but believes that if the state would legalize marijuana, they would be participating in reforming the criminal justice system.
Legalize ND Campaign Wants Criminal Justice Reform
Minorities are arrested at a much higher rate than white Americans, which impairs educational and employment opportunities. "Because of a plant ... they are now barred for the rest of their life from ever really achieving what they could be. And that is the real crime of the war on drugs." The ACLU reports that Black people are arrested at four times the rate of Caucasians. Owen had an unsuccessful run as a Libertarian candidate for the Legislature back in 2016.
Spokesman for the Legalize ND campaign, Josh Dryer, also noted that jailing people over weed is a waste of money. "We spend a lot of money imprisoning people for marijuana. A real conservative doesn’t want to lock up everybody," he concluded.
If passed, the measure would also create a system that would expunge the records of people previously convicted of a marijuana-related crime. People who are already serving time would not benefit from the measure, nor would those who already have pending cases.
Voters legalized medical marijuana in the state in 2016, passing the measure with 64 percent approval. Polls indicated that 46 percent of voters support legalizing recreational marijuana in the state, with 39 percent of voters opposed to the idea, and 15 percent undecided on the issue.