North Dakota Sen. Rich Wardner’s medical marijuana bill, SB 2344, continues to work its way through the North Dakota Legislative Assembly, being revised and improved along the way. While an earlier version of the bill would have significantly harmed patients, the current version — which passed the House in early April— leaves more of the will of the voters intact. Voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of establishing a medical marijuana program last November, in a margin greater than the support received by President Trump.
The current version of the bill, which you can read about here, allows whole plant cannabis and other preparations, but does not permit extracts or edibles. Advanced practice nurses will now be able to issue certifications to patients, though 18-year-olds will still need their parents’ permission to enroll. Unfortunately, the bill would eliminate the tightly controlled home cultivation provision that was included in Measure 5, along with the petition process to expand the list of qualifying conditions. However, terminal illnesses will be added to the program, along with critical legal protections originally missing from the voter initiative.
While MPP still believes the current version of the bill has severe limitations, we are pleased that the bill has improved, and recognize that clear legal protections are an essential element of medical cannabis laws.
The North Dakota Senate unanimously passed S.B. 2154 on Tuesday, which blocks the implementation of Measure 5 until either July or until a new replacement medical marijuana law goes into effect. Now, the bill heads to the House.
Unless representatives hear their constituents oppose this delay, S.B. 2154 is likely to pass. Lawmakers need to heed the will of the voters, 64% of whom passed Measure 5 last November. Many patients can’t afford to wait. Perhaps more alarming still is the bill’s implication that the Legislature may replace voters’ medical marijuana bill. All signs show that any substitution would limit patients’ rights or possibly even be unworkable.
If you are a North Dakota resident, please ask your representative to stand up for patients and to vote NO on S.B. 2154!