North Dakota Senate rejects edible medical marijuana

March 25, 2019

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota Senate on Monday rejected adding edibles as a seventh legal form of medical marijuana, an expansion that had been sought by advocates and also supported by the state Health Department.

The bill stipulated that edibles couldn’t be in a form such as an animal shape or cartoon character shape or in a package that had such images and could be used to target children. It also would have limited patients to 50 milligrams of an edible product.

But lawmakers still expressed concerns.

Republican Sen. Terry Wanzek of Jamestown noted that his grandchildren love gummy bears and wondered “what if one of them were to accidentally get access to 50 milligrams, and they know how to use a scissors? They’re smart young kids.”

GOP Sen. Kristin Roers of Fargo favored the bill because she felt it would increase patient safety. State Medical Marijuana Division Director Jason Wahl made the same argument in committee testimony earlier in the session, saying that patients who attempt to make homemade edibles could end up with improper or unsafe doses.

“The upside from having commercially available edibles is that you get a guaranteed dose,” Roers said.

North Dakota’s approved medical marijuana forms are dried leaves and flowers, concentrates, tinctures, capsules, topicals and transdermal patches. The North Dakota House in February voted 72-21 in favor of adding edibles. Monday’s Senate vote was 28-17 in favor, but the bill needed 31 votes to pass. A two-thirds majority is required to change a law that North Dakotans initiate and pass, which they did with medical marijuana in 2016.

The Health Department has been setting up a system since the 2017 Legislature crafted regulations for the drug’s use. Patients could begin applying for state cards last October, and North Dakota’s first medical marijuana dispensary opened March 1 in Fargo . Dispensaries are expected to be operating in the state’s other seven major cities by fall.

Both the House and Senate have passed bills this session aimed at increasing the number of North Dakota residents who can legally use medical marijuana and making it easier for patients to get the necessary credentials for the drug. The House on Monday also passed a Senate bill that removes a 1,000-plant limit for a manufacturing facility, provided the facility pays an additional state fee.

Steven Peterson, chief lobbyist for The Committee for Compassionate Care, said he was frustrated by Monday’s Senate vote killing edibles but that advocates will continue pushing to make the form legal because it has advantages for some patients.

“Many people with some autoimmune diseases have bad skin reactions to the patches and types of topical medications made with cannabis,” Peterson said. “On top of that, the edibles are released over a longer period of time than any other available dosing methods.”


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