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Frequently Asked Questions About Marijuana in North Dakota

Covering a majority of North Dakota, the great plains are rich with farmland, long-standing family lines, and rural traditions. With nearly 750,000 residents, North Dakota is not a highly populated place and, yet, residents have joined together change how they collectively can use cannabis. While the program has a way to go before it is fully operational, North Dakota has a new crop in town.

Is marijuana legal in North Dakota?
Voters in North Dakota have passed the North Dakota Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, creating a regulatory and licensing structure for patients, doctors, and dispensaries, providing legal protections to patients, caregivers, physicians, and employees under state law in the process.
When did marijuana become legal in North Dakota?
Measure 5 appeared on the November 2016 ballot as a statewide initiative, passing with 63% support.
Where are the dispensaries in North Dakota?
North Dakota is still in the process of creating regulations to license compassion centers. As of April 2017, lawmakers in the state have proposed a total of four cultivation centers and as many as eight dispensaries could be licensed.
Are they MED or REC dispensaries?
Once the rules and laws have been finalized, compassion centers will be able to serve medical patients only. However, the 2018 ballot may seek to open up a legal sales market for adults in North Dakota.
Who can be a medical patient in North Dakota?
North Dakota's medical marijuana program requires an individual to be certified by a physician to use marijuana. In order to get a certification, an individual must have one of the following medical conditions, diseases, or ailments:
  • Cancer
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Epilepsy
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Crohn's disease
A person suffering from a chronic or debilitating disease, medical condition, or its treatment producing one or more of the following may also be certified:
  • Severe, persistent muscle spasms
  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome
  • Intractable nausea
  • Severe pain which has not responded to common medication or surgery for at least 3 months or for which other pain treatment options produced serious side effects
  • Seizures
How do I become a medical patient in North Dakota?
After receiving a certification from a qualified physician, the proposed rules for the medical program require a patient to submit an application with a fee of no more than $300. The application should also include proof of residence in North Dakota, the necessary papers from the physician, and proof of identity such a birth certificate.

Patients under 19 are considered minors under the proposed regulations. Minor patients may be registered in the program by their parent or legal guardian. Additionally, the North Dakota Department of Health must receive documentation of the following before a minor can be registered to the program:
  • Evidence the minor's physician explained to the parent or legal guardian of the minor the potential risks and benefits of the medical use of marijuana.
  • Documentation the parent or legal guardian will allow the minor's medical use of marijuana.
  • Documentation the parent or legal guardian will serve as the minor's caregiver.
  • Consent, in writing, from the parent or guardian of the minor patient to control the purchase, dosage, and frequency of marijuana use by the minor.
Where can I smoke?
Medical patients cannot possess, smoke, vaporize, or use marijuana in any form:
  • On the grounds or property of a school (including in a school bus)
  • In any public vehicle
  • In a patient or caregivers place of employment
  • At a park, recreation center, youth center, or other places open to the public
  • In any correctional facility
  • On the property of a daycare or facility designed for child care.
How much does marijuana cost in North Dakota?
As dispensaries have yet to open, pricing data related to medical marijuana products has yet to be determined. The online grapevine estimates, in the illegal market, an ounce is priced somewhere between $330-$390 on average.
How much marijuana can I buy and possess in North Dakota?
The North Dakota medical marijuana program allows a patient or their designated caregiver to collectively possess as much as three (3) ounces at any time. Compassion centers may not dispense more than three (3) ounces to a patient in any 14-day period. making the monthly total a patient can purchase six ounces. However, the proposed rules for the program under SB 2344 would change this to a total of 2.5 ounces of marijuana flower may be purchased in any 30-day period, with the possession limit remaining at three ounces.

Can I grow marijuana? How many plants?
The text of the ballot measure allowed patients over forty miles from the nearest compassion center to apply for at-home cultivation, yet lawmakers have proposed amendments to the law removing this provision - in addition to other significant changes to the program.
How do I get a job in the marijuana industry of North Dakota?
The final rules for hiring compassion center agents or joining the board of a non-profit compassion center have yet to be agreed upon. At this point, we know a compassion center agent must be 21 or older, must have never been convicted of a felony, and cannot have had a misdemeanor-level drug charge within the last five years. In the proposed regulations, the application fee, in addition to fees associated with performing a background check, can be as much as $300.
Is Drug testing for marijuana legal in North Dakota?
Under the proposed rules for the program, employers are not prohibited from "disciplining an employee for possessing or consuming usable marijuana in the workplace or for working while under the influence of marijuana" which could be interpreted to include drug testing as a method of determining on-the-job intoxication.
Is Delivery legal?
North Dakota includes delivering medical marijuana to patients and caregivers in the legal authority provided to all licensed dispensaries. It does not seem, at this time, rules specific to delivery have been created, only the wording of the proposed rules as written below:

"A dispensary is not subject to prosecution, search or inspection, or seizure, except by the department or a department designee under this chapter for acting under this chapter to: a. Acquire, possess, deliver, transfer, transport, supply, sell, or dispense usable marijuana or related supplies and educational materials to registered qualifying patients and designated caregivers."
How to pay for marijuana in North Dakota dispensaries?
While the program does not require insurance companies to make payments for medical marijuana, the continued Schedule I status of marijuana, making it a federally illegal narcotic, often makes banks uneasy. As a result, it is anticipated the program will allow patients to use cash or, possibly, a debit card to make purchases such as we have seen in other medical states.

North Dakota Marijuana Laws

November of 2016 brought new marijuana laws to a total of eight states including North Dakota. Ballot Measure 5, also known as the North Dakota Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, was passed by voters with 63% support. The compassionate care program designed by the voter-backed initiative would allow individuals suffering from certain illness, disease, or medical conditions to use marijuana as a method of treatment.

While the regulators of the program are, as of April 2017, still crafting the rules and regulations. Here is what we know from the program so far:
Purchase and Possession Limits
Under the proposed rules, a patient or their designated caregiver may possess as much as three ounces of marijuana at any time, but may only purchase as much as 2.5 ounces of marijuana from a compassion center location - once operational - every thirty days.

If a person is caught in possession of one ounce or less of marijuana and they do not hold a valid, active registration as a medical patient or caregiver, misdemeanor criminal charges - including fines up to $1,500 and as much as one month in jail - are possible. Any person caught with concentrate or hash product is subject to felony-level charges, fines up to $10,000, and as much as five years imprisonment. Additionally, North Dakota requires any person convicted of a drug-related offense to undergo a substance abuse evaluation.
Driving while Intoxicated
The proposed rules for the program dictate that driving under the influence shall maintain the same legal force for registered patients as non-patients, with one slight difference. Typically, since marijuana has been a forbidden substance for decades, the presence of any THC or THC-metabolite in a person's blood or urine was enough to determine they had been using an illegal substance. Since medical patients are allowed to legally consume marijuana in North Dakota, the presence of THC metabolites in a patient's sample does not in itself mean the person is breaking the law or is intoxicated behind the wheel.

If it can be reasonably determined a person is intoxicated by marijuana while driving, fines up to $250, an addiction evaluation, and misdemeanor criminal charges await.
Driving while in possession of marijuana
Under both the law as it was voted in and as the proposed regulations, patients and their designated caregiver may purchase, possess, and transport marijuana within the allowable possession limit. The laws do not authorize a person to use marijuana in any form while in a vehicle nor do they protect a patient from the possible legal penalties associated with transporting marijuana between state lines.
Marijuana Use by Minors
Under the proposed rules, minors under the age of 19 must be registered to the program by their parent. The Department of Health will not issue a registration ID for a minor patient unless, first, the following has been received:
  • Written evidence the physician explained the potential risks and benefits of the marijuana treatments to the parent or legal guardian of the minor
  • Documentation the parent or guardian consents to the treatment on behalf of the patient
  • Documentation the parent or legal guardian will be the minor's caregiver
  • An agreement from the parent or guardian to monitor the purchase, dosage, and frequency which marijuana is being used by the minor
  • Verification from the parent or guardian saying they will keep medical marijuana in a locked place, secure from possible tampering
If a non-patient minor is caught in possession of marijuana, the same possession laws apply as mentioned above - misdemeanor criminal charges, fines up to $1,500, and as much as 30 days in jail if under one ounce. In addition, North Dakota juvenile court does have the authority to suspend a minor's driving privileges for up to six months.
Growing Marijuana at Home
The law that voters passed in November 2016 allows for hardship cultivation, a scenario wherein a patient living over forty miles from the nearest compassion center may be specially authorized to grow marijuana at home. The proposed laws and rules for the program, however, have removed at-home cultivation entirely from the act, casting concern and creating criticism among supporters of measure 5.

North Dakota applies penalties to marijuana cultivation based on possession weight. Any marijuana over one ounce in weight can be penalized with felony-level charges, including up to $10,000 in fines and as much as five years in prison.
Places to Consume Legally
Under the proposed rules, medical patients cannot possess or use marijuana in any of the following places:
  • At a school, public or private, including on a school bus or on any school property
  • At any childcare facility (such as a daycare)
  • In any public vehicle, including taxi cabs and city buses
  • In a patient or caregivers workplace
  • At a public park, recreation center, youth center, or place open to the general public
  • In any correctional facility
Patients may never consume marijuana or be under the influence of it in a place where doing so could cause harm or constitute negligence. Additionally, patients may not smoke or vaporize marijuana if the smoke or vapor may be unintentionally inhaled by a non-patient minor.

North Dakota Marijuana Prices and Economic Data

North Dakota made medical marijuana a legal industry in 2016. According to the fiscal note attached to the proposed program laws, it is estimated one out of every 200 North Dakota residents will be able to access medical marijuana. For a state with a population just around 760,000, the estimated number of patients who will register with the program is 3,800 by 2021.

While it is difficult to anticipate how well the program will be adopted by patients, based on analysis of other medical states, North Dakota expects roughly 1,900 patients to register in the program by the fiscal end of 2019. Along with them, 950 caregivers and as many as 300 compassion center agents are expected to be registered in the program. Assuming patients, caregivers, and compassion center agents are required to pay $200 to initially and annually renew their registration ID, around $630,000 is expected to be collected.

Additionally, the North Dakota Office of Tax Commissioner estimates up to $1.7 million dollars will be gained in sales tax revenues in 2017. At the current sales tax rate of 5%, this would imply the program is expected to generate over $34 million in sales in the first year. The state estimates 91.3% of the tax revenues, or $1.55 million, be deposited into the general fund. The remaining 8.7%, or $150,000, would be deposited in the state aid distribution fund. By 2021, these revenue estimates double.

Marijuana Activities: Things to do in North Dakota

North Dakota is known for its vast open prairie and farmlands, frigid winters, and a film by the Coen brothers. A combinations of European and American Indian influences in a rural farming community, North Dakota is known for small-town charm in a big way. While the state - and region - become further entrenched in medical marijuana programs, it is expected cannabis-centered activities, events, festivals, and expos will soon begin making an appearance. Until then, here are a few of our favorite things to do:
The Scandinavian Heritage Park
The Scandinavian Heritage Park, located in Minot, North Dakota, is a place made magical by capturing and amplifying the pride of all five nordic countries - Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland - through historically informative exhibits, statues, and replicas. Even explore a traditional grass roof Stabbur! As the only museum in the world representing all five nordic countries, the facility is truly one of a kind.
The National Buffalo Museum
Located in Jamestown, North Dakota, the National Buffalo Museum is one of those unique places exploring the history of the American West. The 6,000 square-foot facility is home to a variety of exhibits on this history of bison in the great plains. In addition, the museum has displays of American Indian artifacts, a collection of 19th-century guns, and a variety of artworks. Additionally, the museum has a small herd of thirty buffalo, including the rare white albino buffalo.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Theodore Roosevelt was an American president, but he was, first and foremost, an adventurer. In an effort to capture the sense of exploration which continues to affect US conservation efforts today, the Theodore Roosevelt National Park is home to hiking trails and scenic roads at the place where the great plains are put on geologic hiatus. Instead of rolling hills, the Roosevelt National Park is home to canyons, cliffs, and a wonderland of rugged beauty and open space. Incredible at all times of year!

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