ND Senate OKs higher THC limit for medical marijuana patients
The Senate passed the bill 33-14; it now goes to the House of Representatives.
BISMARCK — Efforts to raise North Dakota medical marijuana patients' 30-day THC limit cleared the state Senate on Wednesday, Jan. 11, after a divided committee vote to kill the bill.
The Senate in a 33-14 vote passed Senate Bill 2068, brought by Sen. Kristin Roers, R-Fargo. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives.
The bill originally sought to double the amount of THC in products such as tinctures and lotions that medical marijuana patients may purchase in a 30-day period, from 4,000 milligrams to 8,000. THC is what gives marijuana users a high.
The Senate Judiciary Committee had given the bill a 4-3 "do not pass" recommendation. But the bill passed with a change to 6,000 milligrams instead, after the Senate approved a floor amendment by Roers.
Roers, a nurse, has said the bill strives to address differences in THC amounts in differing products and to move patients away from smoking dried leaves and flowers to using manufactured products, which she said have a consistent dose of THC.
"I hate to be before you to ask you to play doctor today, but the experts in the field are telling us that the statute that's in place currently is not quite working, and so we want to move that up just to 6,000 milligrams, so hopefully we can keep people as comfortable as possible, whether it's for cancer or any of the other debilitating diseases that they have been certified to be able to use this product for," Roers told the Senate.
Much of the Senate's debate focused on the floor amendment for 6,000 milligrams. Sen. Merrill Piepkorn, D-Fargo, said the 8,000 milligrams bill should advance.
Judiciary Committee Chair Diane Larson, R-Bismarck, voiced concerns about potential, future increases to patients' THC limits and how that might affect their tolerance.
Sen. Janne Myrdal, R-Edinburg, said, "Bringing it up to 6,000 — next time it's 8,000, next time it's 12,000; we're playing a game with numbers, and (the) Judiciary Committee, the majority, felt like it is so uncertain what we're dealing with here."
Sen. Judy Estenson, R-Warwick, a retired nurse, said the Senate "should make some effort to give the people the drug that they need."
Patients are limited every 30 days to purchases of 2.5 ounces of dried leaves and flowers or 4,000 milligrams of THC in products such as concentrates, tinctures, capsules, transdermal patches and lotions, according to state Medical Marijuana Director Jason Wahl.
North Dakota’s 30-day THC limit is “on the very, very, very low end, if not the lowest in medical programs” compared to other states, according to Wahl.
North Dakota voters in 2016 approved of a state medical marijuana program; it has 8,898 active patient cards, with manufacturing facilities in Bismarck and Fargo, and eight dispensaries statewide, including one in Bismarck.