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Wayne Stenehjem

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. 

North Dakota House lawmakers retreated on a proposal allowing authorities to view medical marijuana patients' records in order to cross-check their eligibility for concealed weapons licenses Wednesday.

House lawmakers on Tuesday approved a bill amendment requiring the state Department of Health to disclose medical marijuana patients' names, dates of birth and driver's license numbers to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation "for the sole purpose" of determining their eligibility and compliance with the state's concealed weapons law.

It's illegal under federal law to possess a gun and use marijuana, and amendment supporters said it would protect North Dakota's concealed carry license reciprocity with other states.

"What we're really trying to do is to prevent people unknowingly possessing both a medical marijuana card and a concealed weapons license and thereby potentially be guilty of a felony," said Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, whose office developed the amendment language. "The purpose of this is so that we can scrub the two lists and let the folks know that you're at risk, you need to choose between one or the other."

The amended bill passed in a 53-38 vote Tuesday.

But Stenehjem advised lawmakers Wednesday that the medical marijuana provision required a two-thirds majority to pass because it amends a law stemming from a recent ballot measure. Voters approved medical marijuana in 2016.

Lawmakers voted Wednesday to send Senate Bill 2140 back to the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where its chairman, Rep. Todd Porter, R-Mandan, planned to remove the amendment to save the rest of the bill.

Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, doubted the state's concealed carry license reciprocity was at risk and opposed creating a "database of medical marijuana users to help assist the federal government in enforcing federal law."

"To me, it's kind of an egregious Big Brother move," said Becker, who's known for his Libertarian leanings.

Stenehjem said the failed amendment would have been the easiest way to address the issue but said it's "potentially possible" to find other avenues.

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