Governor Jack Dalrymple was in Washington DC over the weekend attending a meeting of the National Governor’s Association. One hot topic at the meeting, not surprisingly, was marijuana legalization. Governors from across the nation were eager to talk with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper about the issue.
Dalrymple was asked about his feelings about legalization in North Dakota, and while he didn’t exactly endorse a move, he didn’t exactly rule the issue out either.
North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple, a Republican, said he did not foresee legalization soon. “Everybody is watching to see how it settles out in Colorado,” he said. “But you never know.”
North Dakota ranks as a pretty socially conservative state, so it’s hard to imagine a push to legalize pot getting a lot of traction among lawmakers. North Dakota has a long history of prohibition, too. The state entered the union dry in 1889, with the original constitution banning alcohol, and booze was illegal here until after national prohibition was repealed.
A lot of that prohibitionist attitude remains today. North Dakota is usually pretty close to the cutting edge when it comes to the government war on tobacco, for instance.
But it’s worth remembering that North Dakota has long fought a battle with the federal government over industrial hemp (the state got a victory on that front in the recent Farm Bill), and in 2012 there probably would have been a measure to legalize medicinal marijuana on the statewide ballot had it not been derailed by petition fraud perpetrated by, among others, a group of North Dakota State football players.
The shift in American attitudes toward marijuana has been remarkable in recent years, and I think Dalrymple is wrong about one thing. I’m sure the debate will be coming to North Dakota sooner rather than later.
Maybe even in the next legislative session.