A long campaign to legalize medical marijuana in North Dakota unraveled quickly – and unexpectedly – over the past month. The final nail in the coffin came last week, when the state Supreme Court rejected a plea by MMJ advocates to save the legalization measure after local officials determined it would not qualify for the ballot.
The court’s decision effectively dashes any remaining hopes that North Dakotans will get to vote on medical cannabis legalization in November.
It’s certainly not the biggest blow to the medical marijuana industry. North Dakota is one of the least-populous states in the nation, home to less than 700,000 residents. The patient base and overall market would have been miniscule compared to states like California and Colorado.
But it’s a disappointing development for the industry nonetheless because it represents a setback to the advancement of MMJ laws across the country. Currently, 17 states and Washington DC allow the use of medical marijuana by qualified patients.
In this battle, every new state counts, as the more medical marijuana spreads across the country, the harder it will be for the federal government to fight the industry.
The good news is that two other states, Arkansas and Massachusetts, will vote on MMJ measures in November. And while Arkansas will be a challenge, the situation looks very bright in Massachusetts, where a recent poll found that 59% of voters support the medical marijuana initiative.
Also last week, dispensaries in Los Angeles got some welcome news when the City Clerk’s Office announced that it had verified the required number of signatures on a petition to fight a ban on medical marijuana centers. The city must now rescind or modify the ban, call a special election or let voters decide the fate of MMJ in Los Angeles in the March local elections.
Despite the ongoing uncertainty for medical cannabis in LA, it’s a great 11th-hour victory for dispensaries.
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