In 2016, North Dakota voters approved Issue 5 to legalize and implement a state-wide medical marijuana program. Regulations were further refined in 2017 by Senate Bill 2344, with dispensaries finally opening in 2019. 

Though the state has been known for stringent cannabis laws in the past, recent legislation has shown progress. House Bill 1050 decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis. Possession of half an ounce or less is considered a criminal infraction (down from a misdemeanor), punishable by up to a $1,000 fine (previously, up to 30 days in jail). Though legalization measures failed at the polls in 2018, North Dakota’s cannabis advocates remain hopeful for 2020, and have worked with the North Dakota Legislative Council to submit a proposal for the November election.