North Dakota lawmakers began a study of recreational cannabis 10 months ago.
They’re continuing to look at how legal marijuana is affecting other states, and how it may impact North Dakota.
On Wednesday, the Deputy Coordinator for the National Marijuana Initiative virtually spoke with lawmakers. KX News was in the Senate chambers for the discussion as he presented some findings from Colorado, one of the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana in the U.S. back in 2012.
The Coordinator, Dale Quigley, says what we know public health-wise from Colorado is usage is trending down among teenagers, but use is up overall. He says the increased availability and a lowering perception of harm contribute to the use rates.
Quigley adds, for the vast majority of people, cannabis does not pose an addiction risk.
A spokesperson for the North Dakota Adult and Teen Challenge, a faith-based residential recovery program, also spoke virtually. He says one out of four people they treat for addiction started out using marijuana.
He asked the committee to vote against any future legalization efforts.
We asked the spokesperson, Pastor Phil Wolverton, what he thought of Quigley’s statement that cannabis really doesn’t pose an addiction risk in the vast majority of people.
He responded, “I don’t understand that at all…I’m not a doctor, I’m a pastor. I’m the one who deals with the real-life situations, with the hurts and traumas of what happens from the addiction.”
Quigley says the bottom line is, we just won’t know much more about the effects of legalization for another decade or more.