BISMARCK - North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said Thursday, April 13, that he smoked marijuana while hitchhiking in the 1970s.

Burgum, a first-term Republican, made the remarks during a press conference after the Senate passed a medical marijuana bill Thursday morning. Asked by a reporter whether he had ever smoked marijuana, Burgum said he did while hitchhiking to Alaska in the summer of 1976.

"Everybody that picks you up when you're hitchhiking to Alaska in 1976 generally wants to share some company and share some other things while you're driving," he said.

Burgum said he planned to sign the medical marijuana bill, which replaces the initiated measure voters passed in November. Asked about whether North Dakota should move toward full legalization, Burgum cited banking issues in Colorado.

"If you want to attract a criminal element to an industry, then make sure it's an all-cash economy," he said. "I would like to see the federal government move toward decriminalization so that we can actually get the financial system back involved in this part of the industry so we have a better shot of tracking it."

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

Burgum said the so-called war on drugs has been ineffective, citing societal costs.

"Simultaneously, while we're taking a step forward here around legalizing medical marijuana in our state, we also have to take a hard look at ourselves as a society and say what are the real costs of addiction and what can we do to try to prevent the tragedies that often come with addiction," he said.