Supporters of marijuana legalization in North Dakota have submitted more than 18,000 signatures to the secretary of state in support of a measure that would fully legalize the drug, a figure well above the 13,452 signatures required to put the question on the November ballot.

Like a recent successful medical marijuana measure in Oklahoma, the effort in North Dakota has largely flown under the radar, with no financial backing from national drug policy groups. And like in Oklahoma, North Dakota is a deep red state that hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964.

Those factors could make for a tough sell to voters in November. But if the measure qualifies for the ballot, supporters are hoping a pitch based on criminal justice reform will carry them to victory in a state where marijuana users have some of the nation’s highest odds of getting arrested and face some of the nation’s toughest criminal penalties if they do.


The bill, as written by supporters, would legalize the possession, sale, and use of marijuana for all North Dakota residents who are age 21 and older.

It would also expunge previous marijuana convictions from North Dakotans’ criminal records.