David Owen, a pro-marijuana activist, working to put legalization of recreational pot on North Dakota's 2020 ballot, says a legislative study into how to handle legalization has gone "off the rails."
A meeting this week of the committee overseeing an interim study intended to look into the logistics of implementing legal recreational marijuana policy, should it pass, included testimony from a former prison warden who suggested a tie between pot use and Satan worship.
Winston Satran, a former warden at the North Dakota State Penitentiary, "linked the marijuana-related convictions and the prevalence of the drug in the prison system to the suicide deaths of two inmates, including one who was 'obviously mentally ill and also a Satanic worshiper,'" Jeremy Turley reported from the meeting.
"It feels intentional," Owen said of the legislative committee's seeming desire to attack the concept of legal marijuana as opposed to preparing for it to be law.
State lawmakers were caught off guard when North Dakota voters passed, by a wide margin, a ballot measure legalizing medical marijuana. Owen says he'd like to avoid that situation his time around should voters make recreational marijuana legal.
Owen also provided an updated on the signature collection effort to put his measure on the ballot. He said they have about "10 or 11 percent" of the roughly 13,400 signatures needed. He considers the effort "ahead of schedule."
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator. Listen to his Plain Talk Podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RobPort.