NORTH DAKOTA HAS eliminated the threat of jail time for people caught with small amounts of marijuana.
Gov. Doug Burgum, a Republican, quietly signed the decriminalization bill last week, along with more than 50 other bills passed by the legislature during its most recent session. The signing was not publicized by the governor’s office and was first reported by NORML, a prominent marijuana reform organization
House Bill 1050 makes the first-time possession of up to half an ounce of cannabis or marijuana-related paraphernalia a criminal infraction, punishable by a fine up to $1000 but not by jail time. Those charged with subsequent infractions in the course of a year may face misdemeanor charges, however. The bill also reduced penalties for possessing large amounts of marijuana.
It goes into effect on August 1.
The bill barely passed the legislature. The House initially voted down a measure with lesser punishments for marijuana possession, but last month passed House Bill 1050, which outlines stiffer penalties.
North Dakota voters rejected recreational marijuana legalization in 2018 but advocates are hoping for a second public referendum in 2020.