North Dakota voters rejected a marijuana legalization ballot measure on Tuesday.With 81 percent percent of precincts counted, the Associated Press projected that the measure failed.
Unlike cannabis legalization laws approved in a number of other states to date, the North Dakota initiative would have set no limit on the amount of marijuana that people could possess or cultivate. It would also have allowed a system of legal marijuana production and sales, but outlined no rules and regulations for the industry – something that would have been up to state lawmakers to tackle in the upcoming legislative session.
Additionally, the ballot measure would have created a process to automatically expunge convictions for marijuana offenses.
Two years ago, the state’s voters unexpectedly approved a medical cannabis ballot initiative by a strong margin of 64 percent to 36 percent.
“This was a very impressive showing given it was a truly grassroots effort and the first time legalization had appeared on the ballot in a very conservative state,” Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, said of the new results. “The ball is now rolling in North Dakota, and we hope the state’s passionate local activist community will keep that momentum going. It is worth noting the first legalization initiative we ran in Colorado in 2006 received about 41 percent, and it wasn’t much longer before we crossed the goal line.”
The full legalization measure qualified for this year’s ballot in August, without support from major national organizations that have funded cannabis initiatives in other states.
Opponents heavily outraised and outspent legalization supporters in the conservative state.
Meanwhile, voters in several other states are also considering marijuana ballot measures on Tuesday.