The Peace Garden State has made peace with cannabis by eliminating criminal penalties for the possession of up to a half ounce by adults (21 and over). Gov. Doug Burgum signed HB 1050 into law on May 9. The civil penalty is now a maximum fine of $1,000.
Possession of more than 14 grams has been reduced to a misdemeanor from a felony. Possession of 15 to 500 grams is a Class B punishable by maximums of 30 days in jail and/or a $1,500 fine. Possession of more than 500 grams is a Class A punishable by maximums of a year and/or a $3,000 fine. Possession of paraphernalia is an infraction. The bill also signals a move in the direction of recreational legalization by recommending that the legislature “consider studying the implications of the potential adoption” of such a measure.
Now, half the country has either legalized or decriminalized marijuana.
What’s surprising is Burgum is a Republican. “It’s very encouraging to see a conservative state like North Dakota acknowledge and rectify the injustice of jailing people for possession of small amounts of marijuana,” say Marijuana Policy Project deputy director Matthew Schweich. “Lawmakers can no longer ignore public support