As you may recall, Measure 5 was placed on the ballot in 2016 to legalize medical marijuana in North Dakota. Sadly, the measure passed. While nobody is opposed to providing pain relief and other care for needy patients, there are many options available aside from medical marijuana. That said, the most recent push to legalize marijuana in our state goes even further and would legalize recreational marijuana. As the Bismarck Tribune recently noted, “Proponents of legalizing recreational marijuana use are about 2,500 signatures away from requirements for a measure to be placed on the November ballot.”
Let’s take a look at what the initiative would really do. According to the Tribune, it would:
- Fully legalize residents older than 21 to use, possess, grow and distribute marijuana for any purpose;
- Include other forms of products with the main psychoactive part of cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), such as natural oils and other products made from the plant;
- Sets no limits on how much producers can grow;
- Require that anyone previously convicted of a marijuana-related crime would have their records expunged 30 days after the measure’s passage or after being released from prison.
Are you surprised? I’m not. The progression from legalizing medical marijuana to legalizing recreational marijuana is becoming a commonly used tactic. It happened in Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Massachusetts, Alaska, and Maine, and is shaping up to be repeated in many other states, including ours.
What is interesting is that most North Dakotans don’t want recreational marijuana. A 2017 poll by the University of North Dakota found that 68 percent of our state’s residents either somewhat (5%) or strongly (63%) oppose recreational marijuana. So why are we even debating this if two-thirds of North Dakotans think it’s a bad idea?
Let’s look at other states who have legalized recreational marijuana.
- Marijuana-related fatal car crashes have increased 62% since legalization in Colorado. They more than doubled in Washington state.
- Colorado’s top marijuana official said tax revenue from legal marijuana is a “red herring … you’re not going to pave your roads and pay your teachers with marijuana tax revenue”, the intended recipients of the state tax revenue.
- Newborns testing positive for marijuana in Colorado are on the rise. In one hospital alone, half of newborn babies test positive for marijuana.
- Washington and Colorado each have more marijuana businesses than Starbucks or McDonalds combined.
Does it sound like a good idea? Why take these risks? Let’s stop this proposed measure in its tracks. I don’t understand the logic if you want to risk experiencing the aforementioned problems just to afford a minority of North Dakotans the chance to “get stoned”.
We at Family Policy Alliance of North Dakota stand with many other respected organizations opposing this measure. Please help us defeat this measure if it appears on the November ballot. Remember, we are right now shaping the future for our children and grandchildren in North Dakota. Let’s make sure they are able to live up to their God-given potential!
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? I Corinthians 6:19
President & Executive Director