Legal cannabis in North Dakota might take until 2022

Published May 24, 2020 11:00 a.m. ET
iStock / Ianm35

Do you need to wait for federal marijuana legalization, or is recreational cannabis and its legality really of no interest to you? Are you one of the medicinal cannabis users in North Dakota who have been legally accessing your medicine for years? Legal cannabis use for recreational consumers seems to be further down the road than many would like, due to the COVID-19 virus.

North Dakota medicinal cannabis guidelines

Measure 5 thankfully came to light for medicinal cannabis users of North Dakota in November of 2016. If your medical conditions meet the approved recommendations and accompany the advice of a licensed practitioner or physician assistant, you can possess your medicine freely. Medicinal cannabis up to three ounces can be in your possession without infringing on the law if you have any of these conditions:

  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Brain injury
  • Cancer
  • Chrohn’s Disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Migraine
  • PTSD
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Terminal Illness

This is a partial list of conditions that Gov. Doug Burgum signed into law through a series of bills. If, as a  patient in North Dakota, you believe that your medical condition can be assisted with the use of medicinal cannabis, you can petition for your condition to be added to the qualifying list. The Department of Health will review your petition and if it’s approved, they will add your condition to the qualifying list that is currently available.

What form is permissible?

If your doctor prescribes and certifies that you would benefit from using the flower as your means of administering your medicine, then legally, you can possess and purchase it. The different forms of  legal medicinal cannabis are:

  • Patches
  • Topicals
  • Tinctures
  • Capsules

However, if your preferred method of consumption is concentrates or with a delicious edible, those options are not legal in North Dakota. For those medicinal patients who have a green thumb, you can show your skills by growing cannabis plants. This activity does, however, come with some restrictions as you and your garden must not be located within forty miles of a dispensary.

Sign here, please


North Dakota is set to gradually re-open for business, but one of the things that COVID-19 has left its mark on is the cannabis legalization campaign in North Dakota. The group Legalize ND was conducting the forward driven campaign. As with many activities involving non-essential services, the project was suspended without obtaining the needed signatures to ensure that it is on the 2020 ballot.  COVID-19 came to town, and life will never be the same again.

Businesses that were assisting in the signature collection were also closed due to the state order, which included the implementation of safe social distancing practices. It appears that the states 2022 ballot will be the one that will see this initiative penned to paper and federal marijuana legalization come closer to realization.


To appear on the next election cycle, Legalize ND would need to collect a few thousand more signatures. Luckily time seems to be on the side of Legalize ND, as they have until December to reach the qualification requirements for the July 2022 primary. The campaign has put a hold on the face to face interaction involved in collecting signatures.

The COVID-19 virus has put this face to face activity on hold because it is deemed unsafe. However, there are signing options that are being implemented, including online and mail collection. Looking forward, COVID-19 has given the cannabis space in North Dakota time to prepare for 2022 ballot and cemented federal marijuana legalization in its proper place.

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