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Ballot measure petition seeks full legalization of marijuana in ND

Close Up Marijuana Bud and Leaves on Indoor Plant

BISMARCK — An effort to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in North Dakota is underway.

David Owen of Grand Forks delivered a proposed petition to initiate a ballot measure to the North Dakota Secretary of State's Office Tuesday, Nov. 28. State officials must now draft a petition title and review the format before it can be circulated for signatures.

Organizers hope to have the statutory measure on the November 2018 ballot.

The petition calls for the "full legalization of marijuana," meaning those over the age of 21 could use, possess, grow and distribute it for any purpose, said Owen, chairman of the effort's sponsoring committee. It says anyone previously convicted of a crime that's legalized by the measure would have their records expunged.

"Expungement does not mean released from prison. Expungement does not affect pending cases," Owen said.

North Dakota voters approved marijuana for medical purposes last year, but a full legalization effort failed to gather enough signatures.

"Our entire philosophy is that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol, and therefore it is wrong to regulate it to a greater extent than we regulate alcohol," Owen said.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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