North Dakota is home to some of the most passionate cannabis activists on the planet. Proof of that came this week when volunteer activists turned in a significant amount of signatures.
The signatures were submitted in an effort to put cannabis legalization on the November ballot.
If enough of the signatures are determined to be valid then North Dakota voters will join voters in Michigan in deciding on whether or not to legalize cannabis for adult use.
Currently, there are nine states that have legalized cannabis for adult use. Washington D.C. has also legalized cannabis. Adding North Dakota to the list would be huge.
How many signatures were turned in and how many need to be valid?
In some states, such as in North Dakota, citizens can gather a required amount of valid signatures from state voters and put a measure on the upcoming ballot.
The process is known as a citizen initiative and is the same process that resulted in North Dakota voters approving medical cannabis in 2016.
This week cannabis activists in North Dakota turned in 18,700 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office.
In order to make the November ballot at least 13,452 of those signatures need to be valid. That’s a required validation rate of roughly 72%.
That’s a high bar to clear but certainly not impossible. Michigan made the ballot with over a 70% validation rate, so North Dakota is absolutely in play while signatures are counted.
Why North Dakota is special when it comes to legalization efforts
North Dakota may not be the first state you think of when you think of well-funded campaign efforts, and that’s not a coincidence.
Just as with the 2016 medical cannabis effort, the 2018 adult-use legalization signature-gathering effort was led by volunteers.
Legalization efforts in other states that have succeeded on Election Day have historically been well funded by national organizations and donors.
But in North Dakota, it was a truly grassroots effort, which is inspiring on many levels.
Not to knock nationally-backed efforts, because they are great too, but what has been done in North Dakota has been especially inspiring.
What would the North Dakota legalization measure do?
If the initiative passes it would do the following:
- Legalize cannabis possession for people 21 and over
- Legalize cannabis cultivation for people 21 and over
- Create a regulated adult-use cannabis industry
- Lower cannabis penalties for minors
- Expunge certain prior cannabis offenses
A poll conducted in February found that more North Dakota voters support legalization (46%) than oppose it (39%), but that undecided voters (15%) are going to be important.
Right now people have to wait for the signature validation process to play out, but in the meantime, people in North Dakota can help educate voters about the benefits of legalization!