North Dakota’s corporate farming ban doesn’t affect medical marijuana growers

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North Dakota’s Great Depression-era law banning corporate farming won’t preclude horticulture operations from growing medical marijuana, provided it’s not done on agricultural land, the state’s attorney general has determined.

The state health department sought clarification from Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem on how the program voters approved in November 2016 will apply to large corporations, which are barred from owning and operating farms.

The agency is in the process of accepting applications from potential marijuana growers, which might include large corporations.

The intent of the longstanding ban is to protect the state’s family farming heritage.

Two years ago, voters overwhelmingly rejected an effort to exempt hog and dairy operations from the ban to boost those dying industries.

But marijuana presented a different legal dilemma.

In his opinion dated Tuesday, Stenehjem wrote:

“The law requires that medical marijuana be produced in an enclosed, locked facility that does not allow the plants to be visible from the street or other public areas.”

He cautioned, however, that if an operation owned or leased farmland, “corporate farming may apply.”

The opinion clears the way for the state to move forward with the process of registering two manufacturing facilities, said Jason Wahl, director of the health department’s Medical Marijuana Division.

Applications from potential growers are being accepted until April 19.

– Associated Press