WTF Is Wrong With North Dakota Legislators On Medical Marijuana?

ND MedMJ
ND MedMJ

What the hell is wrong with the legislature in North Dakota? Besides the barbaric cruelty of proposing a law legalizing vehicular manslaughter to stifle the First Amendment, they are proposing another cruel bill – SB 2344 – that would rewrite the entirety of Measure 5, the medical marijuana initiative passed by a staggering 64 percent of the voters in November.

These changes they are proposing do nothing to improve public safety or the functioning of the nascent medical marijuana program, but they do plenty to add hardship to sick and disabled patients and the providers trying to heal them. Visit our alert on SB 2344 to add your voice to the outrage.

Cutting Medical Dispensing By More Than Half

Measure 5 dictated that patients should be allowed to possess up to three ounces of usable marijuana and purchase that amount every two weeks. That amount is in step with most medical marijuana states.

SB 2344 dictates that patients can only purchase up to 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana every thirty days.

So, patients who may have needed six ounces per month for their debilitating condition, you will just have to make do with less than half that.

Eliminating Marijuana From Medical Marijuana

Measure 5 stipulated that usable marijuana “means the dried leaves and flowers of the marijuana plant, and any mixture or preparation of those dried leaves and flowers, including but not limited to tinctures, ointments, and other preparations.”

SB 2344 eliminates the use of whole plant cannabis by defining usable marijuana as “a liquid, including an oil, or a pill delivery form of marijuana” and that usable marijuana “does not include the dried leaves or flowers of the plant. Vaporization of cannabis oils are not allowed “if the vapor would be inhaled by a nonpatient minor child.”

So, puking chemotherapy patients who rely on the fast-acting, easily-dosed smoking of marijuana will just have to get used to swallowing (and keeping down) a pill or liquid form of cannabinoids, waiting 45 minutes for digestion, discerning whether the amount taken was enough, then repeating the process if it wasn’t.

Limiting Military-Age Adults to CBD Oil

Furthermore, Measure 5 made no distinction between pediatric and adult uses of medical marijuana, aside from requirements for consent from the child’s legal guardian.

SB 2344 limits minors to “pediatric medical marijuana oil” which is “cannabidiol oil… that contains no more than six percent [THC]”. And for the purposes of this law, a minor “means an individual under the age of twenty-one”.

So, twenty-year-old veteran returning from war with a case of post-traumatic stress, you only get to use the same kind of non-psychoactive cannabis oil that sometimes helps epileptic five-year-olds, but is near-worthless for your condition.

Making The Medical Marijuana Card Expensive

Measure 5 did not indicate what the cost would be for a patient to get their mandatory identification card. However, it did specify that a replacement card for, say, change of address, would cost $25. It specified that cards for operators in the industry, such as a budtender, would cost $125.

SB 2344 jacks the patient’s registry card fee to $300, 50 percent higher than the most expensive medical marijuana cards in America ($200 in Oregon and New Jersey).

So, patient who is already going to have to spend more money for the gas to drive to a dispensary to purchase non-smokable cannabinoid products that will cost far more than the expense of growing cannabis at home, by the time you add up the cost of the physician visits and the cards you need, it may cost you upwards of $1,000.

Making Caregiving More Difficult and Expensive

Measure 5 required that caregivers could not have felony records and would have to get a card to cover their treatment of up to five patients, but didn’t set the cost of that card, either.

SB 2344 sets the caregiver’s card at $300 as well, and by changing “patient(s)” to “patient” in the application process, it appears they’ll have to pay for each of the up to five patients they care for. Also, not just felonies, but drug misdemeanors in the past five years disqualify a caregiver, too.

So, friend hoping to help your five war buddies treat their chronic pain with medical cannabis products, don’t worry about having to shell out $1,500 to be their caregiver, because the time you got busted sharing a joint with one of them to ease post-traumatic stress back in 2014 means you can’t apply anyway.

Making The Dispensary More Expensive

Measure 5 set the non-refundable application fee for a dispensary at $5,000, with a $25,000 annual license fee. For employees, there is a $125 non-refundable application fee for their worker’s registration card. These are costs commensurate with the most accessible programs in the country.

SB 2344 jacks up the annual license fee to $100,000 and the worker’s card up to $300.

So, patient who’s already spending all that money on doctor(s), card(s), and non-smokable cannabinoid products, get ready for those prices to be even higher as the dispensaries look to offset their overhead.

Restricting Access to Medical Dispensaries

Measure 5 set no limits on the number of growers and dispensaries that would be licensed in North Dakota. Thus, the market would determine how many would be needed and where they’d be located to adequately supply the patients.

SB 2344 sets a limit of four growers and eight dispensaries statewide.

So, patient who lives in the great rural expanse of the northern plains, sit back and see where in North Dakota’s four major cities of Fargo, Bismarck, Grand Forks, or Minot you’ll be driving once a month to acquire your medicine.

Eliminating Home Grow Altogether

Measure 5 allowed patients who lived farther than 40 miles away from a dispensary to cultivate their own cannabis for medicinal purposes. It was stricter than the 25-mile grow-ban radius than states like Arizona and Nevada, but it was the first state to allow some home growing since 2012.

Of course, if medical marijuana is no longer going to be marijuana, then patients can’t be growing it at home, can they? SB 2344 strikes the entire section on home cultivation.

So, patient living in Fortuna, get used to making that monthly 2.5-hour drive to Minot or that 4-hour drive to Bismarck to buy your 2.5 ounces of non-smokable cannabinoid pills, oils, or tinctures.

What is the point of voter passing medical marijuana regulations by almost 2-to-1 margins if the legislatures are then just going to re-write the most important portions of them to inconvenience patients?

Russ Belville
About Russ Belville 199 Articles

Russ Belville – or “Radical” Russ, as he is known on-air – hosts The Marijuana Agenda, a live news and talk radio program for the cannabis community, weekdays at 3pm Pacific on MJAgenda.com.  The show is based in Portland, Oregon, but “Radical” Russ has traveled over 300,000 air miles in the past five years, bringing his show to report live from hundreds of cannabis conferences, marijuana expos, hemp festivals, and legalization events in over 70 North American cities.