“BISMARCK — The Legislature approved rules to govern the use of medical cannabis in North Dakota, an uncomfortable compromise for many Republican lawmakers in the conservative state who were surprised that voters legalized it.
The Senate got the 2/3 majority vote needed to amend the citizen initiative, after the House did the same.
GOP Gov. Doug Burgum will sign the legislation that establishes rules for use — including smoking — though only as medicine for people who suffer from debilitating illnesses, including terminally ill patients.
‘We want to make sure this product is available as the people have wished,’ Burgum said.
Fargo financial planner Rilie Ray Morgan headed the initiative campaign and said he and other backers are mostly satisfied, but that another citizen initiative is possible if medical marijuana is not available in the state within the next year, as estimated by the state Health Department.
“If that doesn’t happen, there is going to be war,” he said.
Sixty-five percent of voters supported the measure, surprising lawmakers in the deeply conservative state and even the measure’s backers, who tried but failed to persuade the Legislature to legalize it two years ago.
Passage sent the Health Department scrambling. The measure’s backers, though, accused regulators and the Legislature of attempting to add unwieldy restrictions, including one that would allow patients to smoke medical marijuana only if a physician finds that no other form of the drug, such as a low-THC extract, would help.
That provision was taken out but a doctor or now a nurse practitioner still must recommend smoking as medicine for people who suffer from some diseases.
The bill also removed provisions allowing patients to grow their own medicine.
‘This is landmark legislation,’ the GOP Senate Majority Leader told colleagues. “We have gone where we have never gone before … and I think we have a piece of legislation as good as it could possibly be.”
Morgan, who suffers from chronic back pain, said cutting the growing-your-own provision is still not acceptable.
‘We’re about 80 percent happy,’ he said.”
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See full article – Rules Set for North Dakota Medical Marijuana Program