This Surprising State Could Be the Next to Legalize Marijuana [FEATURE]

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #1032)
Politics & Advocacy

Much attention this year has been focused on marijuana legalization efforts in state legislatures, particularly in the northeast and mid-Atlantic states, but unless Albany and Annapolis and Trenton get their acts together in a hurry, they could be upstaged by a prairie upstart: North Dakota.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger announced Monday that a marijuana legalization initiative sponsored by the grassroots group Legalize ND has qualified for the November ballot. The group had handed in more than 17,000 raw signatures last month and needed 13,452 valid voter signatures to qualify. On Monday, Jaeger reported 14,637 signatures were valid.

"The Legalize ND campaign was able to successfully channel the grassroots enthusiasm for recreational marijuana," said Legalize ND chairman David Owen.

Nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana since 2012, but all of those states have been in the West or the Northeast. This year, with marijuana legalization on the ballot in Michigan as well as North Dakota, legal weed could make a heartland breakthrough.

The North Dakota initiative has some unique features. Here's what it would and wouldn't do:

  • It would legalize marijuana -- in all its forms -- for people 21 and over by removing marijuana, THC, and hashish from the state's controlled substances schedules.
  • It would provide for the expungement of criminal convictions for anyone convicted of a marijuana-related crime that would be legal under the measure.
  • It does not set any limits on how much marijuana people could possess or how many plants they could grow.
  • It does not create a framework for regulated marijuana sales nor does it set any taxes. Creating a system of taxed and regulated marijuana commerce would be up to the state legislature.

It's only been two years since North Dakota voters approved a medical marijuana initiative, and the state Health Department is still in the process of setting up a system for producing and distributing the drug. That same year, marijuana legalization supporters came up short on signatures to get on the ballot, but they persevered, and here we are.

North Dakota is a deep red state -- Donald Trump got more than twice as many votes as Hillary Clinton in 2016 -- but the only poll done so far has the initiative leading. The June poll, commissioned by Legalize ND and conducted by the Florida-based Kitchen Group, had the initiative winning 46 percent to 39 percent, with 15 percent undecided.

That's good but not great news for Legalize ND. Yes, the initiative is leading, but the conventional wisdom among initiative and referendum watchers is that campaigns should be starting off with at least 60 percent support -- the assumption being that inevitable organized opposition is going to eat away at support levels in the final weeks of the campaign.

And there will be organized opposition. The North Dakota Sheriffs and Deputies Association passed a resolution in May opposing legalization and, now that the initiative has made the ballot, is meeting this week to plot strategy to defeat it.

Association president Pat Rummel, the Billings County sheriff, told the Associated Press this week law enforcement worried about potential problems such as impaired driving, more domestic disputes, and more strain on mental health and addiction treatment facilities.

"We don't have enough facilities to take care of these people," he said. "That's going to be a huge impact, too. Where do we put all these people that need to be into treatment?"

The national anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana will also join the effort to defeat the initiative, the group's leader, Kevin Sabet, told the AP. "Our nation is dealing with a five-alarm fire of addiction right now; the last thing we need is more states to throw gasoline on it by promoting more drug use," he said.

That's the tenor of the opposition arguments so far. The question is whether North Dakota voters will still be swayed by such arguments. We'll find out in November.

This article was produced by Drug Reporter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Dain Bramage (not verified)

Here’s what’s fucking with me: Truth matters. 

Trump supporters who say they support marijuana legalization… Well, they don’t. It’s simply not possible. 

Look, I had math anxiety as a kid. But I learned, eventually, that the answers were objective, and that it wasn’t personal. The math wasn’t out to get me, or frustrate me. 
Then as a teen, I encountered Reefer Madness. Having reached the age of reason, I said, “Didn’t we already cover this? Facts matter, right?” 
“Not in this case,” I was told. “Just believe what we tell you.” 

Fast forward to 2016. 
Now, along comes Traitor Trump, and his entire UNIVERSE of “alternative facts.” 
Now, we’ve got a contradiction incarnate: the pot-smoking Trump supporter. They say they support marijuana legalization… But they can’t. They don’t. They may think they do… but they are mistaken. It’s simply not possible. Maybe they’re lying; or, maybe they’re crazy… who knows. But those two positions are fully incompatible. 

“Now hold on just one minute,” you might say! “I hate Trump as much as the next decent and compassionate human being; but I also happen to know actual, real people who voted for Trump, AND who voted for the marijuana legalization initiative on the very same ballot! Explain that!” 
Okay. What I am saying is, said voters are in a state of conflict. They are taking on two contradictory positions. It is not only that the Republican party has always been, in my lifetime, actively and aggressively opposed marijuana legalization. It’s also that, right now, the Republican Party is presently the Party of Trump. 

Trump is a Putin operative. 

The Republican Party openly covers for Trump’s treason. 

That makes the Republican Party the party of Putin. And THAT makes the Republican Party, not only treasonous, but FASCIST as well. 
Now, back to the pot-smoking Trump supporter. 
Sure. Anybody can claim to hold two contradictory statements. Anybody can claim that 2+2=5, too, and for the very same reason: freedom of speech! 

But here is why they are full of shit: It may be only a case of hypocrisy, or self-deception, or some other mental malfunction… Until they step into the voting booth. 

But at that point, in the voting booth, one position takes precedence over the other position, and the net result is this: A vote for Trump, or any Republican, is a vote for Fascism. And a vote for Fascism will always takes precedence over a vote for marijuana legalization, even if both issues “win” at the ballot box. 
That is because if both ballot issues “win”, Fascism can, and will, destroy marijuana legalization; but marijuana legalization cannot, and will not, destroy Fascism. Marijuana Legalization requires a democracy! And a democracy is something that Fascism does not permit. 

Marijuana Legalization and Fascism are mutually exclusive. Authoritarian permission, or tolerance, is NOT equivalent to legalization, because it is not based on any valid legal principle — only the whims and moods of “Our Dear Leader”… In this case, a fucking scumbag of a wanna-be dictator like Traitor Trump. 
Nietzsche said 

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” 
I say again, Truth matters. 
…the price we will pay for being wrong is that there will be a crackdown — and don’t lie, we all saw it coming from a mile away. Trump, Sessions, McConnell, the whole lot of them — all rabid prohibitionists with no respect for Truth. You may buy their “hemp-friendly” marketing, but not me, buddy! 

Trump and the Republicans must be stopped. 
Republican pot-smokers need to abandon the Republican Party! 

…And if we fail? Then History will say “Stupid Fucking stoners. Trump and Putin played them for suckers, and they fell for it. Such obvious lies, too… tsk, tsk, tsk. I guess pot really does make you stupid.” 
And, perhaps, “Once the legalizers got a taste of power, all principle went out the window, didn’t it? Well, now we have a fascist authoritarian crackdown. I guess they all got what they deserved!” 

Poll: I support marijuana legalization because: 
A) marijuana prohibition is unjust, inhumane, and founded on lies. 
B) My white privilege entitles me to legal weed. 
C) I look out for Number One. 
D) I do not support marijuana legalization.

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 6:19am Permalink
Robert G. (not verified)

So are we to gather that this is a simple repeal measure, plus the expungement, that will just remove reference to marijuana from ND's statutes?

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 11:33am Permalink

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