Friday, November 17, 2017

County Study Group Reviews Proposed Rules for Medical Marijuana

The proposed administrative rules for medical marijuana are comprehensive and lengthy. The 55 rules drafted by the North Dakota Department of Health (DOH) are intended to protect the public’s health and safety while regulating the medical marijuana program. NDACo put together a group of county officials to review the rules. The group represented various departments who will be involved and impacted by the implementation of medical marijuana. 

NDACo legislative team gets input from study group members
Following the initial review of the proposed rules, NDACo will follow up with the Department of Health seeking clarification on a number of the rules. NDACo will prepare comments to submit in person and/or in writing to DOH. The response will represent a state-wide county perspective addressing the various county department concerns. Public hearings will be held in the middle of December and written comments must be submitted by December 26th.  

NDACo has planned a webinar to review the county-related rules with all county members December 7th at 10:00. In addition, the webinar will also address possible zoning ordinance changes to assist counties in regulating the medical marijuana manufacturing facilities and dispensaries. McKenzie County Planning Director Jim Talbert has put extensive research into their ordinance and has offered it as a resource for other counties as well.  

Voters last November passed Measure 5, legalizing medical marijuana. The North Dakota Legislature replaced the law with their own version of guidelines which added more controls and limitations to the compassionate care act. The law allows for only two manufacturing facilities and eight distribution centers. Businesses interested in operating a medical marijuana facility or distribution center must have approval from local officials prior to applying for registration with the DOH. Only qualified patients or registered care givers who have a medical marijuana registration card will be legally allowed to purchase and possess medical marijuana. The DOH has said medical marijuana is anticipated to be available to registered qualifying patients within the first quarter of 2019. 

The study group was made up of Cass County Commissioner Chad Peterson; McKenzie County Planner  Jim Talbert; SW District Health Administrator  Sherry Adams; Morton County Tax Director  Linda Morris; McKenzie County State’s Attorney  Chas Neff; Ward County State’s Attorney  Roza Larson; Grant County Sheriff  John Foss; Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department Major  Gary Schafer; Richland County Social Services Director  Kristen Harsbargen; and NDACo Staff Terry Traynor, Aaron Birst, Donnell Preskey and Mary Korsmo.