The November election is a little more than a month away, and supporters of Measure 3, recreational marijuana, feel some education needs to be done on the Western part of the state, and one of the people talking about it is a republican legislator.
Kathrine Nicole Bredwick and Jessica Powers are residents in Southwestern, North Dakota, and they are part of a group called “Vote Yes on Measure 3: ND Legalization Initiative“, and they feel their is definitely some preconceived ideas about marijuana.
“People believe that people who use marijuana are stupid or lazy, and they just sit around and that not just the case, ” said Powers.
The group has more than 10,000 members on their Facebook page, and they are handing out pins, bumper stickers, and yard signs to get the word out and educate people about recreational marijuana.
In fact, a member of the group has plans to put a billboard up in Dickinson, ND on October 10th, and Powers said that so far she has been a little surprised by people’s reactions.
“Its been more favorable than I imagined it would be”.
But Powers and Bredwick still don’t understand why some people who oppose Measure 3 are okay with alcohol but not marijuana?
“Why should you be okay to get blackout drunk and that’s okay in the publics eye, but you get high and order a pizza and you’re a bad person, ” said Bredwick.
The measure is even getting support from a local state legislator in the Stark County area.
“Republicans are going to tear me over this, but in a free country who owns your body. . . you do.” said Rep.Luke Simons(R), ND State Legislature District 36.
He also agrees that there are legal substances that are more dangerous to the public than marijuana, and the government needs to get out of the way of the people.
“Alcohol is a gateway drug . . cigarettes are. Prohibition does not work. We have 160 years of evidence”.
Law enforcement is one of many groups in North Dakota opposed to Measure 3.
The Dickinson Police Department has had more than 700 marijuana related incidents so far this year, and they are looking at what happened in Colorado; the state’s crime rate increased eleven times faster than the rest of the nation since legalizing Marijuana.
“There has been a 65 percent increase in the juveniles who are ingesting marijuana, and DUI under the influence of Marijuana have increased exponentially, ” said Lt. Mike Hanel, Dickinson Police Department.
Powers said that she believes that has more to do with state’s population growth after legalization.
“When you have an infrastructure that is set up for so many people, and all of the sudden that number grows it creates problems. Just like it did here in the Bakken(oil boom) with the influx of oil field workers”
Lt. Hanel said law enforcement is also concerned about the broad nature of the bill, as to where someone can smoke and grow.
The way the petition is written someone could smoke or grow next to school with no restrictions, and it has the potential to be a direct threat on the safety of the youth said Lt. Hanel.
Another issue with the petition he said is that someone has to be 21 or over to buy or possess, but there is no language in the measure that addresses ingestion.
Lt. Hanel said a 16 year-old could ingest and be under the influence of marijuana and their is nothing officers can do about it.
He also said another major concern for law enforcement is that if the Measure 3 passes, it would be effective within 30 days after passage, so legislators would have little to no time to fix any issues.
Bredwick and Powers said they believe someone should have to be over 21 to possess and use marijuana, and there should be designated places to smoke and buy it.
At the end of the day it will be up to voters to decide on November 6th,
Medicinal Marijuana passed with more than 60 percent of the vote in North Dakota in 2016.
It is yet to be fully implemented.