North Dakota taps new medical marijuana director

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Amid a legislative debate over the rules governing North Dakota’s new medical marijuana industry, the state’s health department has named the first director of the voter-approved MMJ program.

Effective Friday, Kenan Bullinger was tapped to oversee the program, according to the Bismarck Tribune. Bullinger has worked for the health department for more than three decades, and he has been involved with discussions about the MMJ program from the onset.

North Dakota voters passed MMJ legalization in November with 64% of the vote. A senate bill was then introduced to amend the law. Proponents contend the measure would alter the intent of what voters approved.

The bill, for example, would implement fees for MMJ patients and businesses that are much more pricey than those contained in the ballot initiative, the Bismarck Tribune reports.

The state’s governor last week signed legislation to push back the rollout of the MMJ program by several months so lawmakers and regulators have more time to iron out the details.

The health department estimates it will cost about $7.35 million to implement the program for 2017-2019, with as many as 32 full-time employees, according to the Bismarck Tribune.