The first round of pardon applications, which you can access here, will be accepted until Aug. 10
Great news! In a unanimous decision last week, North Dakota's Pardon Advisory Council voted to allow individuals previously convicted of certain marijuana crimes to apply to have those offenses pardoned.
The new policy, supported by Gov. Doug Burgum and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, will wipe the slate clean — free of charge — for thousands of North Dakota residents with marijuana possession convictions on their records. This is a victory for justice and advocates of sensible marijuana policy reform. It will eliminate many hardships, such as obstacles to employment and housing, faced by individuals with prior marijuana records.
The attorney general estimates that up to 175,000 prior convictions will be eligible for pardon. Help spread the word and share the application with others. People who have struggled for years under the weight of a criminal record for marijuana deserve a chance to build a better life.
Good news! With Gov. Doug Burgum’s signature on House Bill 1050, we’ve reached a milestone: half the states in the country have eliminated jail time penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana!
It is encouraging to see lawmakers in a conservative state like North Dakota acknowledge and rectify the injustice of jailing people for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Politicians can no longer ignore public support for marijuana policy reform, which is growing quickly in every part of the country.
North Dakota’s new law goes into effect on August 1 of this year. It reclassifies possession of up to a half ounce of marijuana as an infraction punishable by no jail time and a maximum fine of $1,000 for adults 21 and older. Previously, it was a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail in addition to a fine. The bill also reclassifies penalties for possession offenses involving amounts greater than a half ounce, and it calls on the Legislative Assembly to study adult-use legalization. A more detailed summary of HB 1050 is available here.
The compromise bill sent to Gov. Burgum by the legislature is far from ideal, but it is a substantial step in the right direction. We must keep pushing forward. Support our efforts to enact sensible marijuana laws around the country by becoming a contributor today!
Great news! In a 37-10 vote, senators in North Dakota’s legislature passed legislation last Thursday to replace criminal penalties for possession of up to half an ounce of marijuana with a civil fine of $250. The proposal, introduced by Fargo Republican Sen. Kristin Roers, gained traction as the local marijuana policy reform organization, Legalize ND, announced plans to pursue a 2020 ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for adult use.
Members of the North Dakota House narrowly defeated a similar decriminalization proposal earlier this year, but lawmakers are expected to reach an agreement on the details of this legislation and ultimately send it to Gov. Doug Burgum, who has expressed support for decriminalization in the past.
The bill would also establish a process for the state to study the possibility of legalizing marijuana for adult use. Advocates with Legalize ND say that passage of this law will not deter them from efforts to put a legalization measure on the ballot in 2020.
It’s encouraging to see state lawmakers acknowledging the harms of marijuana prohibition and taking steps to end arrests for low-level possession offenses. There is more work to be done, but thanks to the tireless work of local advocates, we are finally seeing significant progress in the North Dakota Legislature.