Student assists with ballot measure

A group of university students and community members across North Dakota have come together to gather signatures in support of a marijuana legalization ballot initiative.

If the ballot gets 13,342 signatures in 120 days, then the secretary of state will have to put marijuana legalization on the ballot in the upcoming election.

Dave Owen, a UND student and the Grand Forks representative for this ballot iniative said the goal of this initative is to get a serious conversation about marijuana reform started throughout North Dakota.

“Myself and a couple others were frustrated about the lack of progress through state legislature. There had been groups in the past that tried to get marijuana legalized through legislature, and they were laughe at,” he said.

Owen’s proposal will take marijuana, a schedule 1 drug, and make it recreationally legal for possession and sale for anyone 21 years of age or older. The proposal also makes all marijuana paraphernalia legal.

By making all marijuana paraphernalia legal, you revoke police officers ability to search your house for other drugs based upon paraphernalia as probable cause. Owen  and others want to close the probable cause loophole that police officers can use to search without a warrant. One of the most surprising paraphernalia items include small spoons.

In this proposal you must state which items are used for marijuana consumption when cops search and seize items.

Those with a dissenting opinion might say that medical marijuana legalization is sufficient enough, but Owen disagrees.

“I don’t see medicinal marijuana as a pathway to full legalization, I see it as an intermediate compromise that puts you in limbo,” Owen said

By legalizing marijuana for recreational use and capping tax at 20 percent, proponents say the U.S. could be able to get rid of the black markets, making marijuana use safer for all and more fair to the people who use.

“When the black market is stopped, quality goes up while price stays relatively consistent,” Owen said.

With the proposal capping the tax of marijuana at 20 percent, he believes lots of revenue will be brought into the state and those who buy will not have to pay outrageous prices.

Sunflower, barley, soy, canola, beans, oats and sugar beets are some of the most revenue generating crops that can be grown in North Dakota. With a limited amount of crops available to grow prairielands, Owen believes marijuana will greatly benefit the farmers in this heavily agricultural state.

“We are an agricultural state. By adding cannabis as a viable crop, it increases crop rotation while decreasing the state’s vulnerability to price fluctuations,” Owen said.

Under the proposal, farmers will be able to grow and possess an unlimited amount of marijuana.

Those who are interested in assisting or signing Owen’s proposal should contact him at (243) 393-9835. He will need 13,452 physical signatures in four months in order for the proposal to make it on the ballot in November.

Nick Sallen is the Opinion Editor for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]