A North Dakota bill would legalize medical marijuana in the state, effectively rejecting the federal prohibition on the same.
House Bill 1430 (HB1430) would allow qualifying patients with appropriate ID cards to use medical marijuana without fear of arrest and prosecution by state law enforcement.
Qualifying conditions under HB1430 include cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, and post – traumatic stress disorder.
In addition, patients would qualify for medical marijuana under HB1430 if they suffered from “any persistent or chronic illness or condition that, in the opinion of a physician, substantially limits the ability of a person to conduct one or more major life activities; or may cause serious harm to the patient’s safety or mental or physical health if not alleviated; if the illness or condition may be improved by the use of marijuana.”
The bill also protects the livelihood of physicians willing to prescribe medical marijuana to their patients by stating that:
"A practitioner may not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, including civil penalty or disciplinary action by the state board of medical examiners or by any other occupational or professional licensing board or bureau, solely for providing written certifications or for otherwise stating that, in the practitioner’s professional opinion, a patient is likely to receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from the medical use of cannabis to treat or alleviate the patient’s serious or debilitating medical condition or symptoms associated with the serious or debilitating medical condition."
Dispensaries are also protected under the bill, which states they cannot be “subject to prosecution, search, or inspection, except by the department under this chapter, seizure, or penalty in any manner, and may not be denied any right or privilege, including civil penalty or disciplinary action by a court or business licensing board or entity” as long as they comply with state law.
Most significantly, it bans state law enforcement agencies from engaging in the seizure of marijuana “or conduct any investigation, on the sole basis of activity the officer believes to constitute a violation of the Controlled Substances” as long as the activities are in compliance with the law. The bill also forbids state law enforcement officers from using any “state or local resources, including the officer’s time, to provide any information or logistical support related to such activity to any federal law enforcement authority or prosecuting entity.”
Although it draws a legal distinction between recreational and medical marijuana, HB1430 marks an enormous step in the right direction for cannabis rights advocates in the state of North Dakota. The top-down federal mandates that have failed for so many decades are being replaced with a more decentralized, compassionate approach that is responsive to the needs of the people.
Activists should embrace any opportunity that they have to make it more difficult for people to be locked in cages for the non-violent non-crime of marijuana possession. The end of the federal drug war is on its way whether detractors like it or not. Measures like HB1430 can help grease the wheels on our way toward that inevitable goal!
HOW TO SUPPORT THIS BILL
If you live in the state of North Dakota, contact your state legislators immediately. It is important for you to politely urge them to support and co-sponsor this important bill. That is how you can make a difference in the fight against cannabis prohibition.
If you live in different state, contact your state legislators and urge them to introduce a supporting bill to HB1430 such as our P.E.A.C.E (Preventing Excessive Allocations for Cannabis Enforcement) Act.