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North Dakota House shows appetite for edibles in medical marijuana program

North Dakota House shows appetite for edibles in medical marijuana program

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The North Dakota Legislature's House chamber.

North Dakota's House of Representatives has advanced two bills meant to improve the state's medical marijuana program for patients, including one that would make edibles available.

Voters in 2016 approved medical marijuana. The 2017 Legislature implemented the program. It has 4,796 active patient cards, with eight dispensaries operating in the state, including one in Bismarck. The state's first dispensary opened in Fargo in March 2019.

House Bill 1391, brought by Rep. Gretchen Dobervich, D-Fargo, passed 63-31 on Thursday in the House. The bill would make edible products available to patients in the medical marijuana program. Edibles would come in the form of soft or hard square lozenges. A similar bill failed in 2019 amid concerns that children might mistake edibles for candy.

House Bill 1359, brought by Rep. Matt Ruby, R-Minot, passed 80-13 on Thursday in the House. The bill would restructure the state's medical marijuana advisory board to include representation from manufacturing facilities, dispensaries and patients. The board has six members appointed by the governor, but no requirements for membership.

The bill also would expand the number of designated caregivers -- people who manage patients' use of medical marijuana -- from one to five, and remove the $50 designated caregiver application fee. 

House Bill 1400, brought by Rep. Marvin Nelson, D-Rolla, failed 76-16 Wednesday in the House. It would have expanded the list of qualifying medical conditions to include ones determined appropriate by a health care provider, allowed people to submit health records to qualify, established a temporary card for out-of-staters and created a program for unannounced quality inspections at dispensaries. 

The passed bills go to the Senate.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-223-8482 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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