Last weekend, it was announced that first term Rep. Pamela Anderson (D) District 41 would be introducing a medical marijuana bill in the North Dakota Legislature. The proposed amendment would be very similar to the Minnesota and Montana laws which allow cannabis to only be available in pill form and require a prescription by a doctor.
As I have written before, I have a good friend who is forced to commit a crime in North Dakota to treat his chronic pain with cannabis. I think it is great that Rep. Anderson is pushing this issue; however, I will be curious to see if any members of the majority party have the courage to step up and support this common sense legislation.
However, there may be another way to bring legalized cannabis to North Dakota. Late last year, the Justice Department announced it will no longer prosecute federal laws regulating the growing or selling of marijuana on Indian reservations. This announcement meant that reservations, like the four states and District of Colombia that have legalized recreational marijuana or the 23 states that have legal medical marijuana, will be able to legalize cannabis. They can do this regardless of state legalization.
If any of the states tribes are looking for the opportunity to diversify their economy on their reservations, both marijuana and her non-toxic cousin hemp may be a nice tools for them. The opportunity to both create cannabis based products and tourism would bring in significant revenue to the tribes both in the form of tourism money and related taxes.
I do understand the reality that drug and alcohol abuse are major problems on the reservations. In fact, the Spirit Lake Reservation is officially dry. However, we can all agree that cannabis is very much available on all North Dakota Reservations. The fact that the drug is illegal has not made it go away; it has only created a criminal enterprise and a black market economy. Allowing the drug to be properly regulated and taxed would allow for the funds to improve lives on the reservation and assist with treatment.
It will be interesting to see if any of the reservations pursue the legalization of marijuana in the next few years.