Recreational Marijuana Discussion Continues

Local News

The state debated recreational marijuana use on Thursday.

Over the last few months, lawmakers have been looking at the pros and cons of legalizing all forms of marijuana use.

As of now, there are 11 states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

Legislators opened the discussion up to the public and North Dakotans were given chance to weigh in on the controversial topic.

North Dakota is one of 22 states where medical marijuana is legal, but recreation use is illegal.

Lawmakers heard testimony from a state-run medical marijuana company’s chief operating officer and a sergeant at Bismarck Police Department. Both were against full legalization.

“Don’t tell me marijuana is harmless. Don’t tell me marijuana is not an addictive substance. It’s harmful and addictive,” said Bismarck Police Department Sergeant Michael Bolme.

Right now legislators are studying the idea of legalizing recreational marijuana and what it could mean to the state.

Luke Niforatos travels the country to speak about the effects it could have on young kids. He lives in Denver and said he took on this role because of its impact on his family.

“I’m very concerned about legalization because I live in Colorado. And I’m raising a three-year-old daughter now in Colorado. And every time my wife and I take our daughter on a walk on our streets in Denver, she is covered in a cloud of second-hand marijuana smoke,” Niforatos said.

He said it’s the youth that is the most at-risk when it comes to legalizing all uses of marijuana.

He also said companies tend to create edibles that appeal to the youth, such as gummies and cookies.

Lawmakers in the room are preparing for both outcomes.

“What do we do if it does become legal? Couple things come to mind with me. The minor situation. How do we make sure it’s kept out of the minor’s hands, just like alcohol is?” said Representative Steve Vetter of Grand Forks.

Vetter added that if recreational cannabis is legalized, he’d like to see restrictions like age requirements.

Lawmakers will meet again in March to continue the discussion.

Right now there are petitions circulating to get legalizing recreational marijuana on the 2020 ballot in North Dakota.

A similar effort failed in the 2018 election by a 20 percent margin.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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