MINOT, N.D.-A group of North Dakota law enforcement officers voted Friday, Aug. 17, at their convention to oppose the recreational marijuana initiated measure that will be on the ballot this November.
Luke Hendrickson, a state trooper and new president of the North Dakota Peace Officers Association, said the 170 members at their meeting in Minot gave a "resounding yes" in a voice vote to oppose the measure this fall.
Through the resolution they approved, the group urges state residents to vote "no" on the measure.
The resolution raises several points as to why the organization opposes legalizing marijuana, including saying in the end it is an "irresponsible" proposal.
Hendrickson said a few of the major concerns they discussed and put in the resolution were that the way the law is proposed drivers couldn't be prosecuted if they were under the influence of marijuana because a DUI is considered a non-violent offense and also that marijuana under the proposal could be smoked and distributed in public areas such as shopping centers, schools, parks, indoor areas and restaurants..
"One thing we talked about was how at a high school football or soccer game someone can't smoke a tobacco cigarette, but they could smoke a marijuana cigarette," Hendrickson said.
However, Dave Owen, president of the measure's sponsoring committee and its group called Legalize ND, disagreed with those views of the proposed law, although he added that the officers, just like other citizens, have the right to express their opinions.
He said lawyers have looked at the measure's provisions and said that no court of law would say a person couldn't be prosecuted for DUI for marijuana and that state law already includes abuse of prescription drugs and marijuana as punishable under the law.
"It's nonsense," he said about the view that drivers couldn't be ticketed.
Owen also said as far as the smoking of marijuana in public areas such as schools that state and city laws wouldn't allow that because of fire, air quality and other concerns already in place.
"They are heavily distorting" how the law would work, Owen said.
He also believes that law officers in the state are split on the measure. He said representatives of a national group of law officers who support legalization would be coming to North Dakota this fall to discuss the issues.
"I just believe they (police) have deeper priorities they should go after," Owen said.