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End of legislative session brings weed and Roosevelt

Not only is the school year coming to an end, but so too is the legislative session in Bismarck. Unlike the school year, the legislature does not meet every year, so the decisions made will have a lasting impact on the state. 

Weed laws with less teeth 

Both chambers passed a measure that would bring the penalty for a half ounce of marijuana down from a Class B misdemeanor to an infraction that would carry no jail time and a $250 fine.

Many states have legalized the substance, and Fargo’s close neighbor to the east decriminalized weed in 1976, according to the Star Tribune. 

The law is seen in the legislature as a way to appease those who want lower penalties for carrying small amounts of cannabis while also siding with those who see full decriminalization as another word for legalization.

Rep. Shannon Roers Jones said on AM 1100 The Flag that she debated with David Owen after his camp narrowly failed to pass marijuana legalization in 2016. She said she found people in the state didn’t want full legalization but were tired of seeing people’s lives ruined for having a small amount of marijuana.

This prompted a failed bill to decriminalize cannabis in the state. During the second half of the session, Roers Jones said she amended the language and attached it to another bill she had proposed.

“It went into a conference committee where it came out not as decriminalization. It’s not a non-criminal charge, but we did get a reduction in the charge,” Roers Jones said.

With a less liberal, more regulated legalization measure coming in 2020, according to Roers Jones the bill does not address the issue of criminal records for marijuana charges.

Roosevelt Library 

According to the Forum, Gov. Doug Burgum’s plan for a new library commemorating former President Theodore Roosevelt was passed by the House. This is the last step for the budgetary bill.

Legislators showed reverence toward the 26th president during debate. “North Dakota had a profound effect on TR’s life and his presidency,” Rep. Mike Nathe of Bismarck said.

“We should be proud to call him our adoptive son,” Rep. Jon Nelson said.

The official budget for the proposal calls for $15 million in excess and $35 million in loans to pay for the building. Neither can be paid until $100 million is raised through donations.

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