Signatures gathered to place pot legalization before voters
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A group that wants to legalize recreational marijuana in North Dakota turned in more that 25,000 signatures to the secretary of state Monday in an effort to place the matter before voters in November.
The group, New Approach North Dakota, needed 15,582 signatures to get the measure on the ballot for the general election.
The organization’s campaign manager, David Owen, says all the additional signatures they gathered shows there is broad support for legalization.
“We’ve had signature gatherers in Fargo, Grand Forks, Bismarck, Minot, Williston…we were at Country Fest this weekend in New Salem. This was campaign that was done in less than 100 days and we averaged 2,000 signatures a week the whole way through, Owen told KFGO. “We think that this really shows true, strong support across the state, the fact that we were able to get so many people to sign.”
Secretary Al Jaeger’s office has 35 days to review the signatures and determine if enough of the petitions are valid to place the measure on the ballot.
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The New Approach initiative would allow people 21 and older to legally use marijuana at home as well as possess and cultivate restricted amounts of cannabis. Public consumption of marijuana would not allowed under the proposed provision.
The measure would also establish policies to regulate retail stores, cultivators, and other types of marijuana businesses.
A similar effort failed in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic hampered the group’s effort at gathering signatures.
Marijuana was a major topic in the Republican-controlled Legislature last year. State representatives brought bills to legalize and tax the drug, but the Senate killed the bills that were passed by the House.