Dependent upon North Dakota Secretary of State approval, a group of supporters have until July 11 to gather the 13,452 signatures needed to get a measure legalizing marijuana for recreational use on the statewide ballot in November.
Supporters of legalization say that should the measure pass, North Dakota would be the first state to grow and mass-produce marijuana, helping farmers as commodity prices fall, according to a WDAZ-TV report. Much-needed revenue, due to a drop in oil prices, would also flow into North Dakota, and petition committee members estimate that between $50 and $100 million could be raised in taxes, should marijuana be legalized in the state.
All Not Rosy in States Where Recreational Marijuana is Legal
Popular support for marijuana use has risen over the years, and four states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for adult use. Twenty others, including Minnesota, have decriminalized it. But states that have legalized recreational cannabis use, like Colorado, have also faced struggles.
According to a Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area impact report, there was a 32 percent increase in marijuana-related traffic deaths in the state in 2014, and about 20 percent of all traffic fatalities are attributed to marijuana use. In 2013, 11.16 percent of Colorado youth ages 12 to 17 were considered current marijuana users, as compared with 7.15 percent nationally. This earned the state a third-place national ranking for young marijuana use, 56 percent higher than the national average.
Medicinal Marijuana May Be on 2016 Ballot
In November 2015, a separate petition to legalize marijuana for medical use was approved by ND Secretary of State Al Jaeger. The sponsoring group must also gather 13,452 signatures on petitions to meet the state’s requirement to get the initiated measure on the ballot. If passed, the measure would allow qualified North Dakota residents to possess up to 3 ounces of medicinal marijuana for treatment of certain debilitating medical conditions.
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