Is Weed Legal in North Dakota?
In the current state of North Dakota marijuana legalization, the state has legalized weed for medical use, but adult-use cannabis remains illegal.
North Dakota’s history of marijuana prohibition stretches to 1933, when the state passed a bill outlawing the plant. Decades later, 64% of voters in 2016 passed Measure 5, the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act, authorizing medical marijuana the following year. However, it took the North Dakota Legislative Assembly two years to create regulations to allow for the cultivation and sale.
In 2017, legislators enacted changes in the North Dakota marijuana laws, prohibiting home cultivation of medical marijuana, which voters supported in the ballot initiative. The 2017 legislation also extended legal protections to patients, caregivers, and medical marijuana businesses.
While North Dakota recreational weed remains illegal, on May 1, 2019, Republican Gov. Doug Burgum signed HB 1050, reducing marijuana possession penalties. The law reclassifies possession of up to one-half ounce, or 14 grams, of cannabis and marijuana-related paraphernalia for a first-time offender from a criminal misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 30 days in jail, to a criminal infraction, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 but with no jail time.
The governor signed HB 1417, allowed qualifying medical marijuana patients with debilitating cancer and “enhanced” medical marijuana cards, to buy up to 6 ounces, or 170 grams, of dried leaves or flower in a 30-day period.
In April 2019, the governor signed HB 1519, which added 12 conditions to the list of eligible medical illnesses and injuries to qualify for North Dakota medical marijuana.
The recent amendments to the state’s medical marijuana law took effect Aug. 1, 2019.
Penalties for Cannabis Possession
Cannabis possession of less than one-half ounce, or 14 grams, is considered a criminal infraction no longer punishable by imprisonment, but with a maximum $1,000 fine. However, possession of more than one-half ounce, or 14 grams, is a misdemeanor punishable by 30 days in prison and a $1,500 fine. Possession of more than 500 grams, or 17.6 ounces, could result in one year in prison and a $3,000 fine. Being caught with any amount of cannabis within 1,000 feet, or 305 meters, of a school is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. The same penalties apply to cultivation of cannabis.
Selling any amount of cannabis as a second offense is a felony that earns a minimum sentence of three to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Involving a minor in a sale carries a 10-year prison sentence and a $20,000 fine. Selling any amount of cannabis within 1,000 feet, or 305 meters, of a school can carry a 20-year prison sentence and a $20,000 fine.
The North Dakota Department of Health regulates cannabis products for medicinal use through its Division of Medical Marijuana.
to Be to Consume?
Purchasing Medical Marijuana in North Dakota
Only marijuana and cannabis products grown and produced within the state may be legally sold in North Dakota. Adult recreational use of cannabis is illegal in North Dakota. Only registered medical marijuana patients may legally purchase or possess cannabis.
Patients seeking medical marijuana ID cards are required to obtain written certification from licensed health-care providers (physicians, advance practice nurses, and physician assistants only) before their applications are approved by the Department of Health’s Division of Medical Marijuana. They must pay a $50 application fee.
It is illegal for anyone to give dry cannabis flowers or leaves or cannabis products to anyone else within North Dakota.
Outside of existing state sales taxes, North Dakota does not impose any additional or specific excise or other taxes on the cultivation, manufacturing, or sale of medical marijuana.
Traveling with cannabis: Registered North Dakota medical marijuana patients with valid medical marijuana ID cards may travel with the legal limits of medical cannabis within the state. They must show their state medical marijuana ID cards or be able to access their electronic medical marijuana ID card. The law does not address travel with cannabis, but state authorities have said that best practice is to keep cannabis products within their packages. Showing legal proof of purchase is not required under state law. Travel across state lines remains illegal federally.
Patients seeking medical marijuana ID cards are required to obtain written certification from licensed healthcare providers before their applications are approved by the Department of Health’s Division of Medical Marijuana. Only physicians, advance practice nurses, and physician assistants may recommend and provide written certifications for medical marijuana.
For registered patients 19 and older, North Dakota’s medical marijuana law allows dried leaves and flowers, cannabinoid concentrates or extracts, solutions, capsules, transdermal patches with a maximum of 50 milligrams of THC per dose, and topicals containing up to 6% THC per serving. Minors younger than 19 are prohibited from possessing dried cannabis leaves and flowers, or cannabis products with more than 6% THC.
There are three possession limits for dried leaves and flowers. Certified patients and designated caregivers with valid medical marijuana ID cards can purchase up to 2 1/2 ounces, or 71 grams, of dried leaves and flowers in a 30-day period. Their ID card will list their limit as “standard.”
Patients diagnosed with cancer may be authorized by their health-care provider to purchase up to 6 ounces, or 170 grams, of dried leaves and flowers and up to 4 grams of THC in a combustible delivery form, according to HB 1417. Their ID card categorizes their limits as “enhanced.” Dried leaves and flowers are illegal to purchase, possess or consume for patients younger than 19. Their ID card will list limits as “zero.”
Smoking medical marijuana in public is governed by the same regulations restricting tobacco smoking in public. Those tobacco laws can be found online.
Is Delivery Available in North Dakota?
Only licensed and registered dispensaries and grower/manufacturers, and registered caregivers can legally transport or deliver medical marijuana.
Where is it Legal to Consume?
North Dakota law prohibits the use of marijuana in public places and workplaces. State law prohibits the unwrapping of the packaged marijuana dried leaves and flowers or cannabis products within dispensaries, and forbids consumption or smoking of cannabis within dispensaries.
Home Cultivation Rules
The North Dakota Legislative Branch prohibited home cultivation of cannabis in 2017 when lawmakers revised the 2016 law legalizing medical marijuana. Only two registered manufacturer/grower facilities may legally grow marijuana in North Dakota.
About North Dakota’s Medical Marijuana Registry
Adult patients, minor patients, and caregivers apply for medical marijuana ID cards through the North Dakota Marijuana Program’s online registration portal.
Conditions to qualify a patient for a written certification for a medical marijuana card include:
- Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Anorexia nervosa
- Anxiety disorder
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Brain injury
- Bulimia nervosa
- Chronic back pain, including neuropathy or damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with intractable spasticity
- Crohn’s disease
- Decompensated cirrhosis caused by hepatitis C
- Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, or elastic skin
- Interstitial cystitis
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Spinal stenosis
- Terminal illness
- Tourette syndrome
- A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or their treatment that produces one or more of the following:
- Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
- Intractable nausea
- Severe debilitating pain that has not responded to previously prescribed medication or surgical measures for more than three months, or for which other treatment options produced serious side effects
- Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including multiple sclerosis.
To apply for a medical marijuana ID card, patients must be 19 or older and a legal resident of North Dakota and able to prove residency through a state-issued ID or North Dakota driver’s license. They must review the online application and tutorials on the BioTrackTHC system. They must have a valid email address and click onto the registration site to create an account and password. On the same site, there are also instructions for minor patients and caregivers. Patients unable to complete the online account registration may call (701) 328-1311, email staff at email@example.com, or write by mail the Division of Marijuana at 600 E. Boulevard Ave. Dept. 301, Bismarck, North Dakota 58505-0200.
Patients applying must photocopy their North Dakota ID cards and submit two current passport-size photos with their application forms. Patients must enter their health-care provider’s name and email address when submitting their applications. Once the applicant has submitted the provider’s full name and email address, that provider will be notified to complete and submit the written certification. While applying patients must sign a medical information release, only providers submit written certification. Some veterans can qualify for an alternative written certification process. Patients must have an existing bona fide relationship with their health-care provider.
Minors younger than 19 seeking medical marijuana ID cards must have their applications completed by parents or legal guardians. Minors also must present either a birth certificate or North Dakota-issued state ID, submit passport-size photos, provide contact information for parents or adult guardians, and pay a $50 application fee.
Information for Caregivers
Designated caregivers are required to be at least 21 years old and must perform the same registration and application steps, and also pass a criminal history background check every two years. They cannot serve as caregiver if they’ve had a misdemeanor drug offense conviction within the last five years, or any felony conviction. Caregivers also pay a $50 application fee and may not serve as caregivers for more than five patients a any time. If the caregiver is also a medical marijuana patient, the limit is four patients.
Registered qualifying patients and their registered designated caregivers cannot be arrested, prosecuted, denied rights or privileges, or disciplined by state courts or regulatory agencies for using or possessing legal medical marijuana products.
Information for Providers
Under North Dakota law, health-care providers who can legally certify medical marijuana patients are physicians, advance practice nurses, and physician assistants. While they must be legally licensed in their specialties, providers do not need to register or pay fees or taxes to certify medical marijuana patients.
Does North Dakota Allow Reciprocity?
North Dakota does not recognize medical marijuana ID cards from other states. There are no registration reciprocity agreements between North Dakota and other states. Medical marijuana patients moving to North Dakota must apply for state medical marijuana ID cards.
Lab Testing Requirements
North Dakota requires all medical marijuana grown and produced to be lab tested for strain, potency, pesticides, and contaminants. In April 2019, the state approved its first medical marijuana lab for testing cannabis. Pennsylvania-based Keystone State Testing, doing business as Dakota State Testing, performs tests at its Fargo lab.
Licensing for Growers, Manufacturers, Retailers and Others
North Dakota law issues licenses for only two categories of compassion centers: a total of two grower/manufacturing facilities and eight dispensaries.
Compassion centers are subject to random inspection by the department, which may review the compassion center’s financial and dispensing records and track transactions.
Manufacturing facilities are limited to growing and processing usable medical marijuana and may include acquiring, possessing, storing, transferring, and transporting cannabis for sale only to registered marijuana dispensaries.
Registered growers/manufacturers must test marijuana for the presence of pesticides and, if the tests are positive, must immediately report results to the health department and to the agriculture commissioner, and, if ordered, must destroy all affected or contaminated marijuana.
Usable marijuana can be sold only in sealed, tamper-proof containers identified as medical marijuana sold only in one of the eight registered North Dakota dispensaries. The label also must describe the strain, batch, quantity, and active ingredients.
Eight dispensaries have been licensed around the state. Businesses applying to become registered dispensaries must pay a non-refundable $5,000 application fee and, if approved, pay a $90,000 license fee. The license duration is two years.
Dispensaries may also store, deliver, transfer, and transport medical marijuana.
Dispensaries must provide educational materials to registered patients and registered caregivers and can buy marijuana products from either licensed manufacturer/grower.
A dispensary can possess up to 219 pounds, or 99 kilograms, of usable marijuana products at any given time.
CBD and Hemp Rules
North Dakota legalized industrial hemp in 1999.
North Dakotans can buy CBD products over-the-counter. State law defines industrial hemp as any variety of Cannabis sativa L. species that contains 0.3% or less THC. The North Dakota Department of Agriculture licenses hemp processors and producers, who cannot be convicted of a felony. Processors and producers must pay a $350 licensing fee annually.