A bill to study the “legalization, decriminalization, and taxation of marijuana” died in the North Dakota House on Thursday.
The resolution, sponsored by Democratic-NPL representatives Marvin Nelson and Joshua Boschee, was defeated in a 40-50 vote.
Rep. Pat Heinert (R-Bismarck), the sheriff of Burleigh County, urged a “no” vote to protect babies.
“I will just say that if you look at the birth rate in the greater Denver area they are in excess of 30 percent babies born with marijuana in their system,” he said, tying this to the legalization of pot in Colorado.
This is a valid concern, according to news reports. But it’s not a reason to vote against the resolution, which only calls for studying the issue. Legalizing marijuana doesn’t mean encouraging the use of pot by pregnant mothers. Alcohol is extremely harmful to a fetus — but North Dakota doesn’t ban it.
The resolution read in part, “Over $1 trillion has been spent nationally enforcing drug laws, including those pertaining to marijuana, since the War on Drugs was initiated by President Nixon in the 1970s. … The United State has become a nation of mass incarceration, imprisoning over 2 million citizens, representing the highest imprisonment rate of any nation in the world.”
North Dakota voters passed a measure to legalize medical marijuana on Nov. 2.