Last November, a voter-initiated measure to establish the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act received 65% approval from the voters. Last night, their voices were heard as North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, signed a comprehensive measure that amends the state’s voter-approved initiative and establishes the initial medical marijuana regulations.
What the Amendments to the Compassionate Care Act Include
Senate Bill 2344 makes several substantial changes to the law passed by voters.
Specifically, it removes a provision permitting patients the option to grow their own cannabis. Previously, patients had the option to cultivate their own cannabis if they did not reside within proximity to an operating dispensary. Annual fees for medical cannabis use will also be lowered from $200 to $50.
The law allows for the establishment of up to two state-licensed medical cannabis manufacturers and eight licensed dispensaries to produce and sell cannabis-based products.
Qualified patients will be able to possess smokeable forms of medical cannabis provided that they are expressly authorized by their doctor to do so. Alternatively, if a licensed physician does not recommend inhaled medical cannabis therapy, patients must obtain cannabis-based medicines such as topicals, tinctures, oils, and capsules. Unfortunately, edible products and concentrates are not approved medical cannabis products under the current law.
Patients over the age of 19 will be permitted to possess up to three ounces of cannabis. Patients who use cannabis-infused products will be limited to no more than 2,000 milligrams of THC over a 30-day period. Individuals under the age of 19 are prohibited from using smokeable medical cannabis and are permitted to use only CBD-rich infused products with a THC content of 6% or less.
Conditions That Qualify for Medical Cannabis Use
Conditions that qualify for medical cannabis include cancer, HIV/AIDS, cirrhosis resulting from hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), fibromyalgia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma, spinal stenosis, neuropathy, chronic back pain, severe muscle spasms, intractable nausea, and multiple sclerosis.
A Happy Compromise
Although some patients still find the new law lacking, most appear to be satisfied with the compromise. The new changes will make medical cannabis more accessible to the patients who need it most, especially those who are terminally ill and are suffering from debilitating medical conditions. And with the new program expected to be operational in less than a year, they won’t have to wait much longer.