North Dakota lawmakers seek to stall medical cannabis rollout

North Dakota lawmakers, apparently blindsided when voters in the highly conservative state casted ballots in favour of medical cannabis use, are likely to pass a measure delaying the rollout by several months to give them more time to work out the details.
Residents of the Republican-leaning state voted 64% in favour of legalized medical cannabis in the recent U.S. federal election. The law took effect Dec. 8, 2016. According to the Associated Press, lawmakers now want to push back that date, which is when state health regulators must begin implementing the program by drafting regulations governing areas such as licensing and and enrolling patients.

Senate Bill 2154 would delay the North Dakota Department of Health from issuing applications for dispensaries and receiving applications as well as issuing certificates of registration.

Lawmakers said more time is needed to implement the program correctly, and they were weighing a delay in the implementation until the end of July.

Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers said state health officials and law enforcement are still figuring out details of the new law, including what type and potency of cannabis should be available and who will oversee distributors.

The AP reported that legislation delaying the law is expected to pass this week in both the state House and Senate. It requires a two-thirds vote to pass. It’s not clear whether the state’s Republican governor, Doug Burgum, would sign it.

“This in no way is to try to stop the process,” said Republican Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner. “Nobody is playing games with this. Everybody respects the will of the people.”

A separate bill is expected to be introduced next week dealing with regulatory oversight.