North Dakota recreational cannabis measure approved for ballot

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Supporters of legalizing recreational marijuana in North Dakota have succeeded in bringing the matter to a public vote later this year.

Proponents submitted more than the required 13,452 valid petition signatures to get a measure on the November general election ballot, Secretary of State Al Jaeger announced Monday.

Supporters submitted 17,695 signatures last month, and 14,637 were deemed valid, he said.

“The Legalize ND campaign was able to successfully channel the grassroots enthusiasm for recreational marijuana,” said David Owen, chair of the citizen group behind the petition drive.

The proposal seeks to legalize the use, sale, possession and distribution of marijuana for people 21 and older.

Supporters of legalizing recreational marijuana failed on a petition drive in 2016. That same year, North Dakota voters approved medical marijuana, and the state Health Department is in the process of setting up a system for the new market.

Nine states and Washington DC have legalized some form of recreational marijuana.

Legalize ND believes those developments improve the chances that a recreational marijuana measure will pass in North Dakota, generally a conservative state.

The North Dakota Sheriff’s and Deputies Association believes legalizing recreational marijuana would create more problems for law enforcement in the state, where more than half of drug arrests already involve cannabis, according to statistics from the Attorney General’s Office.

The anti-legalization organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana also will work to oppose North Dakota’s ballot measure, President Kevin Sabet said.

– Associated Press