A bill to decriminalize low-level marijuana possession in North Dakota quietly received the governor’s signature final week, producing the state the 25th in the U.S. to get rid of the threat of jail time for possessing smaller amounts of cannabis.

Even though Gov. Doug Burgum (R) signed the bill on Could two, his workplace apparently did not make an work to publicize the reform step and it seems to have gone unnoticed by neighborhood media, with NORML initial reporting the improvement on Wednesday.

“North Dakota has previously been ranked amongst the highest in the nation in per capita marijuana possession arrests, so this move is a large step forward,” Carly Wolf, NORML’s state policies coordinator, told Marijuana Moment. “North Dakotans no longer have to have to worry the threat of jail time or the collateral consequences that outcome from an arrest record for low-level possession of a plant.”

The legislation indicates that initial-time offenders caught possessing half an ounce or significantly less of cannabis will be topic to a fine of up to $1,000 and no jail time or criminal record. Folks could be charged with a misdemeanor if they get further possession infractions more than the course of a year.

Also, the bill will lessen penalties for possession of higher amounts of marijuana. Possession of much more than half an ounce but significantly less than 500 grams will be regarded as a class B misdemeanor alternatively of a felony, and possession of something higher than 500 grams will be a class A misdemeanor, once more lowered from a felony.

Possession of paraphernalia to use marijuana will be treated as an infraction. The new penalties will go into impact on August 1.

“This legislation is far from perfect, but it is a substantial step in the suitable path,” Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project, stated in a press release. “It is quite encouraging to see a conservative state like North Dakota acknowledge and rectify the injustice of jailing folks for possession of smaller amounts of marijuana.”

“Lawmakers can no longer ignore public assistance for marijuana policy reform, which is expanding speedily in every single portion of the nation,” he stated.

The bill also calls on legislative management to “consider studying the implications of the possible adoption of an initiated measure enabling the use of recreational marijuana” and specifies that the study “must take into consideration the possible advantages and detriments of legalizing recreational marijuana.”

North Dakota voters rejected a far-reaching marijuana legalization ballot measure final year, even though activists have currently stated they program to attempt once more with a much more narrowly-tailored initiative in 2020.

Cannabis decriminalization seemed to be dead in North Dakota this session following the Home rejected a related proposal in a narrow vote in February. But following the vote, the bill’s sponsor told Marijuana Moment that lawmakers had been “working on a perform about.”

Following substantially legislative maneuvering, the new proposal was sent to the governor on April 26.

Burgum announced that he signed a package of bills final week, but produced no mention of the cannabis legislation. A press release frequently referred to a “renewed spirit of collaboration with legislators to fund our priorities, make strategic investments and balance the spending budget with out raising taxes.”

2019 seems to be shaping up to be a large year for decriminalization, with states extended regarded as hostile to marijuana reform advancing a variety of bills to lessen penalties for uncomplicated possession.

New Mexico’s governor currently signed decriminalization into law this year, for instance, and related legislation is at present on the desk of Hawaii’s governor. More than in Texas, the Home of Representatives approved a cannabis decriminalization bill. And in Alabama, a Senate committee unanimously authorized a related bill, even though one more version was rejected by a Home committee on Wednesday.

Alabama Senate Approves Bill To Legalize Health-related Marijuana

Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

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