Constitutional Measure to Legalize Marijuana Has Sponsoring Committee With a Spotty Background


Secretary of State Al Jaeger’s office has received for review a petition backing a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana.

While I support legalizing marijuana, this proposed policy is a terrible idea, all the more so because the policy would be enshrined in the state constitution. Where this sort of policy ought not be.

But more on that in a moment. Before we get to the myriad problems with the measure (they, uh, misspelled North Dakota, if you can believe it) let’s take a look at who is behind it.

The list of the 37 members on the sponsoring committee is below in the documents from the Secretary of State’s office. Of the 37 committee members, 14 have criminal records. And I’m not just talking about things like speeding tickets or drunk driving charges. I did quick background checks on these folks using the state’s criminal records database, and here’s what I found:

  • felony terrorizing
  • criminal mischief, pleaded down from felony burglary
  • sexual assault
  • manufacture of a controlled substance
  • misdemeanor theft
  • numerous charges for writing checks without sufficient funds
  • simple assault
  • drug paraphernalia
  • disorderly conduct
  • numerous charges related to possessing and using drugs and alcohol illegally

Also, at least one committee member appears to have three open warrants in Michigan.

It shouldn’t surprise us to see some marijuana-related drug charges for people backing a ballot measure to legalize marijuana, but many of these charges are far more serious than that.

I was a little surprised to see these petitions filed with the Secretary of State. I had expected the folks at Legalize ND – who backed last year’s recreational marijuana ballot measure – to start a new effort this election cycle, but this amendment was nothing like what the members of that group had told me they were cooking up.

I contacted David Owen, one of the organizers behind Legalize ND, and he made it clear that his group has nothing to do with this measure.

“We are not them. We are not affiliated with them,” he told me this evening via telephone. “We knew a lot of these people from the last campaign and we intentionally did not want to work with them. Most of them have been banned from our group.”


As for the measure itself, it’s a real mess. Here’s what’s being proposed, and again this would go in the state constitution:

North Dakota voters already said no to a statutory measure last year which would have been pretty straight-forward legalization of recreational marijuana (the one backed by Legalize ND). It seems pretty unlikely that voters would turn around, in the next election cycle, and elevate the cultivation, possession, and consumption of “any and all” forms of marijuana to the level of a right enshrined in the state constitution.

Don’t forget, marijuana legalization exists in the here and now in the shadow of the federal government’s forbearance. The feds aren’t cracking down on states as long as they implement legalization with a healthy dollop of regulation.

This measure provides nothing like that. Not only does it say we have the right to grow/use marijuana, it puts the State of North Dakota in the marijuana research business.

Again, this mandate would be in our state constitution.

I would like to see marijuana legalized, but this ballot measure is a poorly written farce backed by a cadre of people who make for poor spokespeople for the cause.

The organizers of this measure will have to collect 26,904 signatures to put it on the ballot. Their deadline is one year from whenever the petition is approved for circulation, the deadline for which is May 30.

Here’s the full ballot measure, along with the list of sponsoring committee members, from the Secretary of State’s office:

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