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Guest Column: Measure 3 is not right for North Dakota

By Staff | Sep 28, 2018

Since the inception of our committee, North Dakotans Against the Legalization of Recreational Marijuana, just a few weeks ago, I’ve learned that many of our citizens don’t understand Measure 3.

I base this on having been on many radio talk shows recently and having heard callers discussing misconceptions and falsehoods about the actual language in the measure. It’s understandable as most folks don’t take the time to read measure language all the way to the end. In the case of Measure 3, it’s many pages long and the most serious point is at the end. I’m committed to helping educate my fellow North Dakotans about this seriously flawed measure and what its passing would mean for our great state.

I’ve been an attorney most of my adult life so I’m accustomed to reading legal documents. I understand why most folks don’t take the time to try to read through pages and pages of legalese. Hopefully, I can summarize what the measure language actually says or does not say.

If Measure 3 passes there will be unlimited and unregulated marijuana, and there will be no income as the measure does not make any provision for a special tax. The ONLY things made illegal under this measure have to do with sale or distribution of marijuana to those under 21 and the possession of marijuana by those under 21. The biggest issue is literally in the last sentence. It will create a new section of the North Dakota Century Code as follows: 66-01 03. Statement of Supremacy – 1. In the event of the existence of any language in the North Dakota Century Code which conflicts with this chapter those sections are hereby nullified and repealed. This means that anything in our statutes dealing with or regulating marijuana would be repealed. What does that mean for North Dakotans? Here are a few of the most serious changes that would be brought about if Measure 3 passes:

– Marijuana could be grown anywhere, by anyone, as much as they want, wherever they want to grow it

– Marijuana could be sold to anyone anywhere. No licenses. No regulations. No restrictions. It could be sold next to a school or a church, at a public event or on the sidewalk in front of your home.

– Driving while impaired by marijuana would no longer be illegal

– There would be no limit on the amount of marijuana a person could possess

– Marijuana could be smoked or marijuana-laced products could be used anywhere, including in places where smoking cigarettes is not allowed

– North Dakota would be the most liberal state in the nation for regulation and control of marijuana. Other states at least have limits, regulations, rules and oversight.

– The law would go into effect 30 days after passage, which means on December 6th of this year out-of-state Big Businesses could open their doors in our cities and towns. And people across the state individuals – could sell marijuana as well as edible marijuana products too.

– There is nothing about a special tax in the measure language, therefore there would be no big windfall of new tax dollars for the state, as many people assume.

Experiences and statistics across the country in states where recreational marijuana has become legal are staggering. The use of marijuana by kids is skyrocketing. In Colorado, the crime rate has increased 11 times the national average. Emergency room visits for marijuana-related issues have increased dramatically. Central Oregon hospitals have seen a 2000 percent increase in these ER visits. Drug driving fatalities have doubled since legalization. Across the country 50 percent of fatal car crashes involve drivers whose blood tests showed positive for THC, which is the active ingredient in marijuana. Businesses are suffering because employees are tardy, don’t show up, are involved in more on-the-job accidents, and positive test results for marijuana have increased dramatically. And by the way, alcohol consumption has not decreased in any of these states, in fact it has increased in someso that argument won’t work either.

Proponents of Measure 3 have said “the legislature will work things out later”. Will they? Some say, that after the medical marijuana law overhaul beating they’ve taken, there may not be enough support in the House and Senate to get the 2/3 majority vote necessary to take on the task. There is no language in the measure directing the legislature to do anything. However, are we willing to take that chance?

I’m passionate about defeating Measure 3. If passed, it will be BAD LAW for North Dakota. If you want to know more of the facts, visit our website: VoteNoON3ND.com. And please exercise your right and responsibility to vote this November. I will be voting NO on Measure 3. I urge you to do the same.

Wefald was North Dakota Attorney General and is a retired District Court judge. He lives in Bismarck and is the chair of North Dakotans Against the Legalization of Recreational Marijuana.

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