North Dakota will vote on the legalization of recreational cannabis in November after state officials on Monday certified a ballot measure, The Associated Press reported.
Pushed by activist groups, North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger confirmed that 23,368 signatures of 25,000 submitted were valid, well over the 15,582 signatures required.
Among the groups fighting to legalize cannabis in the deep red state is New Approach North Dakota, an organization pushing to allow those 21 and older to legally use, possess and cultivate limited amounts of cannabis.
While not allowing for the public use of the drug, the measure would permit the opening of regulated stores, cultivators and other businesses related to the product, according to The Hill.
The Legislature will then decide whether the state Department of Health and Human Services or another agency will run the dispensaries if the ballot measure passes this fall.
''There is no public safety benefit from arresting adults for small amounts of marijuana. It is a waste of taxpayer resources and a distraction from serious public safety concerns,'' said attorney Mark Friese, a contributor to the initiative.
''Cannabis causes far less harm than alcohol. Many people find therapeutic benefits from it,'' he continued. ''The government shouldn't be in the business of punishing adults who use cannabis responsibly.''
It isn't the first time activist groups have attempted to forward cannabis legalization efforts in the state. In 2020, a similar attempt at a ballot measure was made, but ultimately, the COVID-19 pandemic hurt the group's attempt to gather signatures.
Four years before that, a bill to legalize recreational marijuana passed the state House but was shot down in the Senate. North Dakota opted only to legalize medical marijuana use at the time.
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