A ballot initiative to legalize recreational cannabis in North Dakota has been defeated. That’s because voters in the conservative state rejected the bill during the Midterm elections on Tuesday.
The initiative sought to amend the state’s Century Code by removing cannabis, hashish, and THC from the Schedule 1 Controlled Substances list. Instead, a new chapter would be created to define the terms “marijuana” and “marijuana paraphernalia” and would prohibit any adult above 21 from being prosecuted for any non-violent cannabis-related activity.
Basic provisions of the proposal
In other words, the ballot measure, called Measure 3, would have allowed adults aged 21 and older to use, possess, grow, sell, and buy pot for recreational purposes. Measure 3 also would have created penalties for people below 21 who are caught in possession of cannabis or people attempting to distribute or distributing the drug to others below 21 years old.
Moreover, Measure 3 would have thrown away previous cannabis convictions from criminal records.
No language regarding taxes and regulations?
The ballot initiative, however, did not include any language that pertains to adult-use pot regulations and taxes. Cole Haymond, an adviser for the Measure 3 campaign, told The Washington Post that this was intentional and done by design.
He explained that they left the bill wide open so that state legislators can do their job when it comes to the other details, like taxes, regulations, and zoning.
Why it failed
In its report, Vox noted that this is not how successful marijuana ballot initiatives in the past worked. While these initiatives left plenty of room for regulators and lawmakers to work out a system under which pot can be purchased and distributed, they generally have a framework ready for policymakers to follow and improve on.
Needless to say, North Dakota’s cannabis legalization groups took an entirely different approach in this aspect. And this might be a contributing factor to why the measure failed.
Had it passed, North Dakota would have set the record for the shortest time interval between legalizing medical marijuana and recreational marijuana. Medical cannabis was only legalized in the state in 2016. The ballot initiative to legalize medical cannabis passed with a 64% vote.
The state is still trying to implement this new law, though. Patients still do not have legal access points for the drug.