Is Medical Marijuana in ND Under Threat?

House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R-Fargo)

A former Dem-NPL campaign manager says he believes Republican legislators want to undermine the medical marijuana measure passed overwhelmingly by North Dakota voters on Nov. 8, a charge legislators denied.

The measure was supposed to go into effect 30 days after the election, its sponsor says. But an advisory board has not yet been appointed by the governor. The state health department, which is tasked with implementing medical marijuana, has concerns with some of the language in the measure and hasn’t received any extra funding to work on it.

A bill is being introduced to delay implementation of the measure, in order to give the health department more time to come up with a plan. Meanwhile, six Republican legislators, including House Majority Leader Al Carlson, are sponsoring a bill to create a special commission to undertake a “comprehensive study” of the initiated measure process, which is how voters bypass legislators to enact policy.

Some, including Democratic Rep. Marvin Nelson, are skeptical of the commission’s intentions. “Well I believe that is because the Republicans have decided to attack the only threat left, the people,” Nelson said. “They are smart enough to do it in a way to provide political cover. Start with a commission to fix things. Who could oppose fixing? Then you get the recommendations to make the process impossible and you point at the commission to blame. It is just a set of steps where each step isn’t so bad but in the end, you go where the people would not want to go.”

Rep. Marvin Nelson

Rep. Marvin Nelson (D-Rolla)

Speaking on a Fargo-based podcast called “People are Politics,” Josh Dryer, who ran Nelson’s unsuccessful campaign for governor, recently discussed how the special commission could be used to dismantle initiated measures.

“It’s a buffer for every new measure coming in,” Dryer said. “It’s almost like a kill switch. They have a committee that examines it and then it’s just one step easier to get rid of it. And it’s mostly set up because of medical marijuana.”

Dryer said contempt for the voters is rampant at the Capitol. “Every day, all one hears is just constant refrain on how stupid the voters are, what kind of idiots they are for Marsy’s Law, what kind of idiots they are for medical marijuana, and that’s coming from your Republican representatives you just elected in. They’re so gracious that you elected them in that they’re already calling you stupid idiots.”

Sen. Rich Wardner, a sponsor of the bill to create the special commission on initiated measures, told Mean Read it’s not an attempt to undermine medical marijuana. “We are not trying to gut the plan, but make sure the program does what it is meant to do, provide medical marijuana to those who need it,” he said.

Sen. Rich Wardner

Sen. Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson)

Another sponsor, Rep. Kim Koppelman, said it “doesn’t change any law, but rather calls for a study, as I read it.” The bill is set for discussion at the Capitol on Friday at 9:30 a.m. in the Sheyenne Room, Dryer said.

Top Dem-NPL lawmakers reached for comment said they did not anticipate an attempt to kill the medical marijuana measure. Sen. Joan Heckaman met with Carlson yesterday. Along with two other legislators, they teamed up on a bill to delay medical marijuana’s implementation to give the health department more “time to develop the rules and regulations to implement this,” she said.

Asked if she believes Carlson plans to kill the measure, a feat that would take a two-thirds vote in the legislature, Heckaman said, “I didn’t get that feeling at all. I think he’s very concerned and very serious about this.” Carlson did not respond to a request for comment.

Joan Heckaman is the first woman to serve as senate minority leader.

Sen. Joan Heckaman (D-New Rockford)

The medical marijuana measure’s sponsor, Ray Morgan of Fargo, said he doesn’t expect Republicans to kill it. But he is frustrated by the pace of implementation.

“The decision was made by the voters of North Dakota and now it’s delays, stall, feet in the mud,” he said. “You know, we want to make sure we’re doing this right. It’s just, come on, let’s just get on with it.”


5 Comments on "Is Medical Marijuana in ND Under Threat?"

  1. I have always voted Republican but if they doing anything to stall Medical Marijuana I hope the 60+% that voted for it No longer Vote for these Fools

    Many other States have good programs – You don’t have to study anything except how to get it going ASAP

    Thing is You are just forcing good people to move out of State (is that what you really want ?)

    Still have not heard from the Governor ???

    People passing the bill was easy compared to getting these folks to learn & do the right things

  2. Please read this there are thousands more that say it is better for pain than Opioids

    All the talk of wanting to help people get off Opioids – THIS is it

  3. I got rheumatoid arthritis and the only pain relief I get is marijuana. North Dakota needs to get there head out of there ass . I demand you to get this done immediately. Sorry hydrocodone and muscle relaxers. I need relief.

  4. we voted for medical marijuana by a substantial majority. The decision has been made by ND voters. The legislature needs to leave it alone enact the law now. We are not children. We do not need ‘big brother’ second guessing our decision.

  5. This is an informal and opinionated assessment of SB 2344 before amendments. Please consider the following:
    On-site consumption is not addressed. Personally, I support on-site consumption. Imagine hiring healthcare professionals to be present while a patient uses their medication for the first time. Imagine the academic studies–that is, if students can pay at least $200 a year if this Bill passes] Nonprofit? 21? Home grow? Redefining compassionate care center? Increased costs? Too many wholesale changes.
    #1. 30 days. Such an arbitrary rule. So, patients have to wait every 30 days before purchasing again. What does that 30 day supply look for with each patient? Some patients need medication more often and in greater quantities than others, especially if living far away. It’s an inconvenience. “Such as ingredients added to prepare a liquid delivery form.”- Strike. Unnecessary. What about edibles (solids), etc.? Oh, let me guess what is about to come…*crosses fingers that they don’t limit delivery methods* (I’m responding as I go).
    #2. We really need to move away from a “physician” and go to “certifying healthcare practitioners”. Seriously, are we going to waste time down the road to make the clarification to permit advance nurse practitioners, etc.? Other medical professionals prescribe scheduled substances. A. “In-person”- there goes telemedicine unless there is an exception after the 1st consult. The author needs to consider immobile patients and those that live far away.
    #3 3. CC Agent. Ugh, this card requirement will be a pain in the butt for intern medical students, etc. Will independent contractors need a card? An agent is a broad term. An attorney specializing in business formations needs to hash this out. Very important.
    #4. 4. “Compassion center” means a manufacturing facility or dispensary.” Is there a two-tier system where someone will only have a choice of either growing or selling. Or may someone own and operate both?
    #5 7. Intractable/Chronic Pain? Seriously, MN just went through this process. This should be added to save time and money.
    #6 14. Roots? We have to grind up stalks and roots…a waste of time and money.
    #7 16. “Minor” means an individual under the age of 19. A minor is under the age of 18. Again, one can buy tobacco at 18. Cannabis is safer than tobacco–the low bar.
    #8. 17. I don’t like residency requirements. Reason: MN patient with [insert condition] that can purchase medicine in MN but can’t purchase the same medicine in ND? A patient with a qualifying medical condition is a patient with a qualifying medical condition regardless of residency.
    #9 18. I would like to see the author’s medical credentials and studies regarding this arbitrary limit.
    #10 19. Ha. “[T]o Humans.” I guess animals will suffer even though cannabis can help them, too.
    #11 22. I hope cards do not give an officer the pretext to search a vehicle or private property.
    #12 2. Oh my gosh. “The department shall establish an application fee in an amount not to exceed two hundred dollars.” $200!? The estimate, FROM A STATE AGENCY, is $117. That estimate was made available to the public BEFORE Measure 5 was passed.
    #13 e. What is considered “recent”? What was wrong with “a reasonable copy”?
    #14. 2.a. “The department shall establish an application fee in an amount not to
    exceed two hundred dollars.” Again, $117 is the estimate. Insurance does not cover this! Patients and caregivers pay out of pocket!
    #15. 4 “An individual convicted of a drug-related misdemeanor offense within the five years
    preceding the date of application, or of a felony offense is prohibited from serving as a
    designated caregiver.” Wow. Example: “I was convicted of possessing cannabis within the last 5 years. I provided that cannabis to my mother dying of cancer. So, because of this conviction, I can’t help my mother now because I helped my mother, illegally, in the past?” Felony is one thing. This is WORSE than MN. M.S. 152.22 states” Subd. 3. Disqualifying felony offense. “Disqualifying felony offense” means a violation of a state or federal controlled substance law that is a felony under Minnesota law, or would be a felony if committed in Minnesota, regardless of the sentence imposed, unless the commissioner determines that the person’s conviction was for the medical use of cannabis or assisting with the medical use of cannabis. ” Subd. 11 states: “Subd. 11. Registered designated caregiver. “Registered designated caregiver” means a person who: (1) is at least 21 years old; (2) does not have a conviction for a disqualifying felony offense; (3) has been approved by the commissioner to assist a patient who has been identified by a health care practitioner as developmentally or physically disabled and therefore unable to self-administer medication or acquire medical cannabis from a distribution facility due to the disability; and (4) is authorized by the commissioner to assist the patient with the use of medical cannabis.”
    #16. 7.d. MUST INCLUDE: Intentionally/Knowingly provided false or falsified information or made a material misstatement.
    #17 8.d See above.
    #18. 9. When? Patients deserve to know when they’ll hear back. The original language was better.
    #19. 11. “Denial of an application or renewal is a final department action, subject to judicial review. Jurisdiction and venue for judicial review are vested in the Burleigh County
    district court.” Wow, who made Burleigh County king? How nice that they will receive the court fees. Why would someone in Grand Forks County drive all the way to Burleigh County? Oh, that’s Bismarck. Convenient for state agencies to respond to Administrative hearings to challenge arbitrary and capricious rules.
    #20. Line 28. There need be some exceptions since no one knows when the State has to reply…see #18 above.
    #21. “If a person attempts to transfer a card in violation of this section, the registry identification card is void and the person is prohibited from all privileges provided under this
    chapter.” Wow, just an attempt. Low bar. Hard to prove. Good luck.
    #22. “The department may enter the premises of a qualifying patient, designated caregiver, or compassion center agent for purposes of interviewing
    the cardholder or applicant.” I don’t like how this involves the Fourth Amendment. Tread carefully.
    #23. “Failure of the registered qualifying patient or registered designated caregiver to provide the department access to the premises, material, or information as provided under this section may result in the department taking action, which may include the revocation of the registered qualifying patient or registered designated caregiver registry identification card and referral to state or local law enforcement.” I can see someone saying, “No, I want my attorney to present.”
    #24. “Unless otherwise specified by the department, the registered qualifying patient or
    registered designated caregiver shall correct the violation within five calendar
    days of receipt of the notice citing the violation.” The dept. will need to spend time and money five days later to verify.
    #25. The approval or denial of a petition is a final decision of the department, subject to judicial review. Jurisdiction and venue are vested in Burleigh County district court. AGAIN, BURLEIGH COUNTY!?
    #26. Here is where NDCCA is no longer the NDCCA. NO HOME GROW PER “A person may not cultivate, manufacture, or dispense marijuana or otherwise act as a
    compassion center in this state unless the person is registered as a dispensary or a
    manufacturing facility.”
    #27. 2. “Except as otherwise provided under this section, the department shall register no
    more than: a. Four compassion centers with the sole purpose of operating as a manufacturing
    facility; and b. Eight compassion centers with the sole purpose of operating as a dispensary.” There goes increased competition and lower costs. Page right out of MN.
    #28. 1 & 2. So a manufacturing facility can deliver to a dispensary and a dispensary may deliver the product to patient?
    #29. “and the applicant’s ability to provide an adequate supply of usable marijuana to registered qualifying
    patients and registered designated caregivers;” Does this include explaining where they will get the seed because this will be self-incrimination by breaking federal law. Like MN, will they look the other way?

    #30 e. “and the prevention of diversion” Does this include seed stock? Companies divert all the time to obtain seed. Again, cannabis as a schedule I substance needs to stop on a federal level.

    #31 19-21-15.1.a. “A certification fee, made payable to the “North Dakota State Department of
    Health, Compassionate Care Program”, in the amount established by the
    department, not to exceed one hundred thousand dollars;” From $25,000 to $100,000?

    #32. “The compassion center submits a renewal fee in an amount established by the
    department, not to exceed one hundred thousand dollars, which the department
    shall refund if the department rejects the renewal application;”

    #33. 19-21-22. The author needs a dictionary: “Pesticide (noun) – a substance used for destroying insects or other organisms harmful to cultivated plants or to animals.” Natural garlic oil and NEEM OIL is technically a pesticide! SCIENTISTS and horticulturists will likely challenge these methods. They need to define PROHIBITED PESTICIDES and the LIMITS. “Presence” could be so microscopic that it has no practical effect on anybody. This standard goes above and beyond FDA and USDA regulations.

    A manufacturing facility shall test marijuana at a manufacturing facility for the presence of
    pesticides. If a marijuana pesticide test or a random quality sampling test under section
    19 – 24 – 21 indicates the presence of a pesticide, the manufacturing facility shall report the tes t result immediately to the department and to the agriculture commissioner. Upon the order of the department or agriculture commissioner, the manufacturing facility immediately shall destroy all affected or contaminated marijuana inventory in accordance with rules adopted under this chapter, and shall certify to the department and to the agriculture commissioner that all affected or contaminated marijuana inventory has been destroyed.

    High potential for unnecessary loss of perfectly suitable medication.

    #34 “The compassion center shall limit to authorized personnel the entry to any areas in which marijuana is cultivated or manufactured or in which usable marijuana is held.” Define personnel. What about authorized persons? What if a center would like to give a tour to the Dept. of Health, students, potential investors, etc.?

    #35. “Video footage must be digitally recorded and the compassion center shall hold the
    recordings for at least one hundred twenty calendar days;” Wow, 120? Why? MN stipulates “retained for at least 90 calendar days” under M.R. 4770.1000 Subp. 5.

    #36. Agents shouldn’t be limited to resident’s of ND…good luck getting cannabis professionals with experience: “A photographic copy of the agent’s North Dakota identification verifying North Dakota residence. The agent shall make the license or identification card available for inspection and verification by the department.”

    #37. “A nonrefundable application or renewal fee established by the department in an amount not to exceed three hundred dollars in the form of a check made out to “North Dakota State Department of Health, Compassionate Care Program”. So, for example, a student intern “agent” volunteer has to prove residency and either pay, or the center pays $300? $300 nonrefundable? I only had to pay $10 to get a background check. I probably wouldn’t have applied if I had to pay $300.

    #38 5. “Denial of an application or renewal is considered a final department action, subject to judicial review. Jurisdiction and venue for judicial review are vested in the Burleigh County district court.” Seriously, who are they trying to pay-off in Burleigh County? Travel convenience?

    #39. Ugh. It’s going to take way too long to hire “agents”: “The department shall issue a compassion center agent a registry identification card within thirty calendar days of approval of an application.”

    #40 “The registry identification card of a compassion center agent expires one year after
    issuance or upon the termination of the compassion center ‘ s registration certificate ,
    whichever occurs first.” Then, what, another nonrefundable $300? You have to be kidding me.

    #41 8. “In addition to any other penalty applicable in law, a registered designated caregiver
    who intentionally sells or otherwise transfers usable marijuana, in exchange for
    anything of value, to a person other than a registered qualifying patient to which the
    caregiver is associated with registration, is guilty of a class C felony.” Wow, so the penalty is lower for someone, not registered, to sell or transfer marijuana? I guess great penalty comes with great responsibility. A felony is harsh for selling and transferring a substance proven to be safer than alcohol and tobacco. The war on drugs has failed.

    #42. #11. “A physician who holds a financial interest in a compassion center may not knowingly
    refer a patient to a compassion center or to a registered designated caregiver,
    advertise in a compassion center, or issue a written certification. A physician who
    violates this subsection must be fined up to one thousand dollars.” Depending on the return, $1,000 fine may be worth the trouble. Interesting how we see felony charges above and a fine here.

    #43. 19-24-31 Protections. I’m feeling there is hope…
    b. “For receiving compensation for costs associated with assisting a registered
    qualifying patient with the acquisition, use, or possession of usable marijuana.” Notice no protections for growing, cultivating, and processing of the medication. No protection for patient and caregivers ignores a tenant of Measure 5: Home grow 40+ mi.

    #44. 19-24-32 Limitation.

    The author must remember that this medication is necessary for some children who suffer a seizure [insert other conditions] while at school. I thought we trust practitioners to dispense scheduled substances at the following locations. This rule prevents a child patient from either self-medicating or being medicated at locations they are likely to be present and for long periods of time. We must not forget how we treat other, more dangerous medications. Cannabis is safer than alcohol and tobacco. That’s the bar.

    This chapter does not authorize a person to engage in, and does not prevent the imposition of any civil liability or criminal liability or other penalties for engaging in the following conduct:

    2. Possessing or consuming usable marijuana:
    a. On a school bus or school van that is used for school purposes;
    b. On the grounds of any public or private school;
    c. In any correctional facility; or
    d. On the grounds of a child care facility or home daycare.

    5. Operating, navigating, or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle, aircraft, train, or motorboat, while under the influence of marijuana. However, a registered qualifying patient may not be considered to be under the influence of marijuana solely because of the presence of metabolites or components of marijuana that appear in insufficient concentration to cause impairment.

    Question for a prosecutor: What is or isn’t considered a sufficient concentration to cause impairment? Determined by what test? Some patients have “high” concentrations because they require a higher dose in a shorter time but yet they are not impaired. What does impairment from cannabis look like? What are the nondiscriminatory facts? They should follow Minnesota on this one.

    #45 19-24-34 Facility Restrictions

    1.c. “Usable marijuana can be consumed by a method other than vaporizing.” What about smoking? If not smoking, vaporizing is healthier and easier to dose. Why smoke or vaporize? Break-out pain in which unnecessary suffering will continue while other forms (ex. edibles and tinctures) of intake take much longer (through liver etc.).

    d. Consumption of usable marijuana is limited to a place specified by the facility. Limited to what place? Any place? Can a facility limit use of cannabis infused edibles to only the outside where smoking is permitted? What is reasonable? The restriction is reasonable only if the restriction on cannabis is at least equal to the restriction associated with other medications defined as a controlled substance.

    #46 19 – 24 – 35. Registry identification cards.

    Age and home address not required to be on ID cards. Interesting.

    #47 19-24-36 Verification system.

    1. The department shall maintain a confidential list of cardholders and each cardholder’s
    address, phone number, and registry identification number. The Government posses private information on private individuals, many of which are suffering, in a confidential list that the government (police, etc.) may use….wait for it….

    2. The department shall establish a secure verification system. The verification system
    must allow law enforcement personnel, physicians, pharmacists, compassion centers,
    and compassion center agents twenty-four-hour access to enter a registry identification number to determine whether the number corresponds with a current valid registry identification card. The system may disclose:
    a. Whether an identification card is valid;
    b. The name of the cardholder;
    c. Whether the cardholder is a registered qualifying patient, registered designated
    caregiver, or registered compassion center agent;
    d. Whether a registered qualifying patient is a minor; and
    e. The registry identification number of any affiliated registered qualifying patient,
    registered designated caregiver, or compassion center.


    The dept. shall possess private medical information on private people and provide this information to law enforcement at all times? Wow, the department isn’t there to verify the identity of the person the police are trying to get information about at all times. All the department should be able to verify, WITHOUT A WARRANT (because we will see, there is no warrant requirement under the next Section titled “Confidentiality.”), is the registry number. This validates the medical card as intended. Or, for what other reason is this language intended?

    3. Upon a cardholder’s written request, the department may confirm the cardholder’s
    status as a registered qualifying patient or a registered designated caregiver to a third
    party, such as a landlord, school, medical professional, or court.

    Wait, so only upon a cardholder’s written request may the department disclose information to a court. What if they issue a warrant or subpoena? Court will have to wait for the cardholder to give the dept. permission to disclose their status. Why do the rules require a cardholder’s written request to disclose information to a court but the rules also allow the police to access private personal medical information at any time without the cardholder’s permission/request?


    19 – 24 – 38. Advisory board.
    1. The governor shall appoint four members to serve on an advisory board that:
    a. Shall advise the department in implementation of the compassionate care
    b. May receive reports from the department on the status and activities of the
    compassionate care program.
    c. May provide recommendations to the department and the legislative
    management on the compassionate care program.
    2. The state health officer shall serve as an ex officio voting member and as chairman of
    the advisory board.

    Summary: Governor hires (well, why not hire) friends to make decisions on an advisory board that will determine who opens up for business, spending, enforcement, etc. Oh, and every time a rule needs changing, the advisory board will have their recommendations heard (but really, followed). Wait, there’s no conflict of interest. See, we have another government official serving as fancy “ex officio” and chairman of the advisory board.

    #50. 19-24-40 Rules

    3. “The health council shall adopt rules to establish requirements for reporting incidents of
    individuals not authorized to possess marijuana or usable marijuana under this
    chapter and who are found in possession of marijuana or usable marijuana.” Every person who possessed cannabis illegally will be identified and reported….cont’d….”The rules must identify professionals required to…secure the marijuana or usable marijuana.”

    #51. 19 – 24 – 41. Compassionate care fund – Private donations – Continuing appropriation.

    What happened to explicitly reducing the cost of medicine to the patient through use of the fund?

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