While a number of states throughout the US have legalized the recreational use of cannabis, North Dakota has yet to jump on board. However, on January 3, 2017, the state took one vital step towards accepting the many benefits of cannabis. A powerful 64% of voters voted in favor of Measure 5, legalizing the use of medical marijuana.

Through the passing of this important measure, those with qualifying medical conditions will be eligible to legally purchase cannabis for medicinal reasons as a prescribed form of treatment. Patients must first acquire a medical marijuana card after being diagnosed with one or more of the qualifying by a licensed physician. Patients that live within 40 miles of a Compassion Center (medical dispensary) will also be allowed to grow up to eight plants at home.

While North Dakota has made major strides in the medicinal department, the state continues to hold some of the harshest marijuana laws in the country. On the very first offense, possession of any amount of marijuana can be punished with up to one year in prison and over $2,000 in fines. Due to the drastic effects, these laws have on minorities and underprivileged communities, there has been a massive outcry for the decriminalization of cannabis.

For now, all eyes are on the laws developing in regards to medicinal marijuana and the requirements and licenses associated with the act.

With such harsh punishments for possession of cannabis in North Dakota, it has never been so important to be aware of the state's changing laws. Be sure to check on current state laws before purchasing any amount of cannabis, medicinal or otherwise, to avoid any federal charges. With the medicinal cannabis law passed in early 2017, it may not be until early 2018 that medical dispensaries are made available to the public.