Understanding North Dakota’s Medical Marijuana Laws

Now that voters have approved the measure, what are the next steps?

The use of medical marijuana is one of the most discussed and analyzed issues throughout the entire United States. This debate is certainly not a new subject. California has long been the leader of the medical marijuana movement since it approved medical cannabis use in 1996. Many states have since followed suit and passed laws allowing the use of medical marijuana in specific and approved situations. Other states have even gone so far as to legalize recreational use of marijuana. North Dakota is similarly in the discussion as one of the states where the legalization of medical marijuana is swiftly moving towards reality.

This past November, 65% of voters approved the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act. In response, legislators are currently contemplating the specific provisions of the program. Both the state House and Senate approved an emergency extension preventing the law from going into effect until at least late July of this year to evaluate the rule’s guidelines.  As written, the bill would allow patients with a specified debilitating medical condition to register for the state’s medical marijuana program. The medical conditions that have been approved for inclusion in the medical marijuana program include:

  • Cancer
  • HIV or AIDS
  • Hepatitis C
  • ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Spinal stenosis or chronic back pain
  • Glaucoma
  • Epilepsy
  • Other chronic or debilitating diseases that produce severe pain, muscle spasms, intractable nausea or seizures

The state Department of Health also has the discretion to add additional medical conditions or diseases to this list. Patients with an eligible condition or disease would be required to apply for a registry identification card and provide a detailed, original written certification from a physician indicating that the use of medical marijuana is likely to provide therapeutic or palliative benefits to treat or alleviate the patient’s condition.

Despite the legalization of medical marijuana in 28 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam, there are still considerable legal hurdles that must be considered. Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law. This conflict between state and federal law opens the door for continued legal battles that may impact a patient’s ability to legally obtain and use medical marijuana. In the past, the federal government has not focused their efforts on marijuana enforcement but the current political climate may change how the U.S. Department of Justice views medical marijuana programs.

It remains to be seen exactly how the use of medical marijuana will be applied in North Dakota but our highly skilled and knowledgeable attorneys at the Larson Law Firm, P.C. are ready to provide the resources and advice you need. For answers to your legal questions, call us at 701-484-4878 or contact us online. Schedule a free initial consultation today.

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