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BISMARCK, ND — Governor Doug Burgum has signed a bill into law making North Dakota the 25th state in the nation to eliminate the threat of jail time for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

House Bill 1050 reclassifies possession of up to a half ounce of marijuana by adults 21 and older as an infraction punishable by no jail time and a maximum fine of $1,000. Previously, it was a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail in addition to a fine. The bill also reclassifies penalties for possession offenses involving amounts greater than a half ounce, and it calls on the Legislative Assembly to “consider studying the implications of the potential adoption of an initiated measure allowing the use of recreational marijuana.”

A detailed summary of House Bill 1050 is provided below by the Marijuana Policy Project:

  • Reclassifies and reduces criminal penalties for marijuana possession
    • Half an ounce or less: infraction with a maximum $1,000 fine
    • More than half an ounce but not more than 500 grams: Class B misdemeanor (maximum penalty of 30 days imprisonment and/or a fine of $1,500)
    • More than 500 grams: Class A misdemeanor (maximum penalty of 360 days imprisonment and/or a fine of $3,000)
  • Reclassifies possession of marijuana paraphernalia as an infraction>
  • An individual’s third infraction within a year may be treated as a Class B misdemeanor
  • Calls on the legislature to “consider studying the implications of the potential adoption of an initiated measure allowing the use of recreational marijuana”

“This legislation is far from ideal, but it is a substantial step in the right direction,” said Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “It is very encouraging to see a conservative state like North Dakota acknowledge and rectify the injustice of jailing people for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Lawmakers can no longer ignore public support for marijuana policy reform, which is growing quickly in every part of the country.”

Gov. Burgum also recently signed a series of bills designed to expand and improve access to medical marijuana for patients registered under North Dakota’s existing medical marijuana law, which voters approved in 2016.

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