Our view: Another try for pot in ND? Give it a break
The man behind the recent failed effort to legalize marijuana in North Dakota says proponents are "100 percent" going to try again to get recreational pot approved in the state. If David Owen's guarantee comes true, that means North Dakotans again will vote on the issue in 2020.
Can't North Dakotans get a rest from this continued argument?
During last month's election, Measure 3 — the measure to legalize recreational marijuana in the state — failed 59 percent to 41 percent. It lost by more than 60,000 votes in an election that saw 326,036 votes overall. The measure passed in only four counties.
We hope it doesn't come on the ballot again in 2020, although we suppose it's a foregone conclusion North Dakotans will vote on recreational marijuana in the future. There is a smoky haze on the horizon as the forest fire of recreational marijuana overtakes the landscape.
Previously confined mostly to the coasts and Colorado, that marijuana smoke is drifting inward. Along with the District of Columbia, Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington all have legalized recreational marijuana. Michigan was the latest, as voters there gave approval in an election last month. The new law was implemented Thursday in Michigan.
Canada, of course, legalized recreational marijuana nationwide earlier this year.
North Dakota and Minnesota have approved marijuana for medical use, but a handful of other Midwest states — including South Dakota, Iowa, Wyoming, Nebraska and Kansas — do not allow marijuana use for any purpose. That conservative attitude also prevails in Texas and states in the extreme Southeast.
So we're holding a conservative attitude, too. In fact, our hesitation about recreational marijuana isn't so much about the actual use of the drug as much as it is about our concerns about a quagmire arising that puts law-enforcement agencies in a bind.
Numerous news stories nationwide document the troubles police have in proving impairment for marijuana users. Here in North Dakota, last month's measure likely failed because it was too open-ended and questions about regulation existed.
Former Attorney General Robert Wefald said prior to the election that "it will be the wild, wild West in North Dakota." That probably scared off a few voters.
We choose to believe Wefald and law-enforcement agencies and we choose to adhere to national law, which still bans recreational marijuana use.
Yet a Gallup poll last year showed that 64 percent of Americans approve of legalization of recreational marijuana.
Nonetheless, it's frustrating to renew this battle just days after it was soundly defeated at the polls. It also failed to gain enough support to even be put on the ballot in 2016.
Yet the smoke billows on the horizon.