Adult-Use Legalization Projected to Diminish North Dakota’s Medical Market
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Adult-Use Legalization Projected to Diminish North Dakota’s Medical Market

The state’s patient numbers could decrease by more than 80% under a 2022 initiative, which would allow edibles and do away with monthly limits for adults.

September 13, 2022

Should New Approach North Dakota advocates succeed with their 2022 adult-use cannabis ballot measure this November, the state’s medical market would pretty much disappear.

While North Dakota officials have issued more than 8,200 medical cannabis ID cards to qualifying patients since voters approved Initiated Statutory Measure 5 with a 64% majority in 2016, the number of active patients would likely dwindle to fewer than 2,000 following adult-use legalization, The Associated Press reported.

North Dakota Medical Marijuana Division Director Jason Wahl told a legislative panel Sept. 12 that the state’s medical cannabis registry could shrink by more than 80% because, in part, New Approach ND’s 2022 measure would allow adults 21 and older to purchase greater amounts of cannabis or cannabis products, tax rates would remain the same and edibles would be allowed under adult-use legalization.

RELATED: Tracking the Number of Registered Medical Cannabis Patients by State

Under current medical cannabis law, North Dakota patients are limited to purchasing 2.5 ounces of dried cannabis flower in a 30-day period, but the 2022 ballot measure would allow those 21 and older to purchase up to 1 ounce of cannabis, 4 grams of concentrate or up to 500 milligrams of THC in an infused product—the possession limit—in a single visit.

Under the 2022 measure, adults 21 and older could potentially visit numerous dispensaries and purchase the 1-ounce possession limit multiple times in one day because “none of that is tracked,” Wahl told the legislative panel.

In addition, edibles, which were included in the 2016 voter-approved ballot initiative but later removed from the list of approved medical cannabis products by the state Legislature, would become legal under New Approach ND’s 2022 proposal.

Also, North Dakota’s current structure that includes a 5% sales tax plus local rates for medical cannabis would go unchanged under the adult-use proposal, the AP reported.

RELATED: 6 States That Could Legalize Cannabis Through 2022 Ballot Measures

The initiative aims to establish a licensed industry for cultivation, processing, retail and testing laboratories, requiring the Department of Health and Human Services, or another department or agency designated by the state Legislature, to establish a licensed program by Oct. 1, 2023. Under the measure, seven cultivation facilities and 18 retailers would be licensed.

North Dakota could expect $1.3 million in revenue during its following two-year budget cycle from application and registration fees for licensed operators, which would cover the cost of state oversight, Wahl told the panel.

The state Tax Department has yet to calculate the potential revenue that could come from adult-use sales, according to the AP.