North Dakota Cannabis Business Licenses
WHAT IS NORTH DAKOTA'S CURRENT CANNABIS MARKET STATUS?
The fight for North Dakota’s access to an adult-use cannabis market was severely impacted by COVID and the resulting economic shut-down. An advocacy group, Legalize ND, was working to collect 13,452 signatures before July 6, 2020 to put a statutory initiative to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana before the voters in November. The campaign was unfortunately unable to qualify due to signature gathering challenges that were severely impacted by the pandemic. The newly formed and newly launched medical marijuana industry, as of 2019, in North Dakota has also been impacted by the pandemic. A dispensary in Fargo, North Dakota (the largest city in the state) had shut down temporarily in April 2020 due to cited sluggish sales and regulatory delays affecting their ability to maintain operations.
WHAT ARE NORTH DAKOTA'S CANNABIS LAWS?
The first sign of medical marijuana progress made in the state of North Dakota occurred when 64% of voters approved Measure 5 in November 2016. This was a breakthrough measure for the patients of North Dakota and many in the state were thrilled that they would finally be able to access their medicine; however, the lawmakers sought to correct some regulatory issues with legislation and further delay the implementation of the measure. During this time they also restricted some of the voter-enacted protections, such as the option to cultivate medicine at home for those living greater than 40 miles from a dispensary. On April 17, 2017, Gov. Doug Bergum signed the revised program into law. The department has since licensed two compassionate care centers to cultivate a limited amount of medical cannabis and eight compassionate care centers to dispense it to registered patients. Cannabis flower is permitted, but doctors must specifically certify patients to use this form of cannabis. Patches, tinctures, topicals, and capsules are also allowed, but edibles and concentrates are not permitted for commercial sale.
WHAT IS NORTH DAKOTA'S CANNABIS LICENSING TIMELINE & CANNABIS APPLICATION PROCESS?
North Dakota does not have an open application process or a clear timeline for future licensing applications. Sign up for our weekly newsletter to stay in the loop for updates!
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF CANNABIS IN NORTH DAKOTA?
North Dakota made all forms of cannabis illegal in 1933, including the cultivation, manufacturing, sale, and possession of any amount.
In 2015, the state legislature attempted to create and pass a framework for medical marijuana production and sale with House Bill 1430. Without much public support in the state, it was voted down at 26-67 in February 2015. Following the bill's failure, Fargo resident Rilie Ray Morgan began the process of preparing a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana for the 2016 general election. Then in 2016, North Dakota voters approved Measure 5, effectively creating a comprehensive and compassionate medical cannabis program for North Dakota.
In 2017, both houses of the North Dakota legislature passed amendments to Measure 5. Most notably they removed the ability for medical users to grow their own marijuana at home if they could not reasonably reach a dispensary. The changes also required that a medical professional specifically recommend smoking as a method of using marijuana in some cases. In July 2018, the North Dakota Department of Health opened an application window for medical cannabis dispensary licenses and has subsequently licensed both cultivators and dispensaries to run the state’s program.
DOES NORTH DAKOTA HAVE A HEMP PROGRAM?
North Dakota has legalized the production of hemp and sale of hemp-derived CBD products. Under current North Dakota law, anyone interested in growing industrial hemp will need to apply for a license issued by the Department of Agriculture and pay all related licensing fees. Any person with a license can grow or process industrial hemp for commercial purposes or research. All hemp licensing applications are approved by the commissioner at the North Dakota Department of Agriculture. The current application process requires an extensive application process and higher fees than many other states.
The state hemp bill, House Bill 1438, was signed into law in 2015 and amended the existing law by removing the requirement that state-licensed hemp growers must also be federally licensed by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The state is still operating under this temporary pilot program while they align with federal 2018 Farm Bill stipulations.
ARE YOU PREPARING FOR THE NORTH DAKOTA CANNABIS MARKET?
North Dakota is poised to expand its current medical marijuana program and create a thriving adult-use market in the coming years. It’s never too early to start preparing for the application process or establish a clear business plan for targeting the market. Contact a member of the Point7 team today to get started!