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Chief's Corner: Vote on Measure 5

On Nov.8, you will be asked to vote on Initiated Statutory Measure No. 5, the "North Dakota Compassionate Care Act" relating to medical marijuana.

A copy of the measure can be found the North Dakota Secretary of State web site.

In North Dakota medical marijuana will be available for treatment of things such as cancer, HIV, AIDS; Hepatitis C; ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease; post-traumatic stress disorder; agitation of Alzheimer's disease, dementia; Crohn's disease or Fibromyalgia; spinal stenosis or chronic back pain including neuropathy or damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with; Glaucoma; Epilepsy; chronic or debilitating disease medical conditions such as cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe debilitating pain that has not responded to previously prescribed medication or surgery for more than three months; intractable nausea; seizures; or severe and persistent muscle spasms; any other medical condition or its treatment added by the North Dakota Department of Health.

A North Dakota Department of Health qualifying patient will be able to possess marijuana for medical use totaling 3 ounces or less of usable marijuana. This amount is more than what can legally be possessed in Colorado where recreational marijuana is allowed.

Medical marijuana would be available for purchase at a compassion center. By law, a compassion center shall not be located within 1,000 of the property line of a preexisting public or private school. A registered compassion center shall possess no more than 1,000 marijuana plants irrespective of the stages of growth. The center shall possess no more than 3,500 ounces or 218 pounds of usable marijuana regardless of formulation. The center will be subject to inspection of the North Dakota Department of Health for the presence of pesticides, fungus and molds.

If the qualifying patient's home is located more than 40 miles from the nearest compassionate care center, patient or designated caregiver may cultivate up to eight marijuana plants in an enclosed, locked facility. In Colorado, adult residents can grow up to six marijuana plants per person, with no more than three in the mature/flowering stage at any time. Under Colorado law, marijuana cannot be consumed openly and publicly. The proposed North Dakota law has no such restrictions.

In Minnesota, medical marijuana is handled a little bit differently. If you are a Minnesota resident who suffers from certain conditions, fewer than those listed under the proposed North Dakota law, you may be eligible.

Medical marijuana is only produced by two registered manufacturers. Medical marijuana is only available as a vaporizer product, capsule, oral solution and tincture. Medical cannabis will eventually be available at eight cannabis patient centers across Minnesota.

Use of medical cannabis in children, adolescents, and young adults should be approached with special caution. There is evidence that recreational use of marijuana during the active period of brain development through young adulthood can lead to cognitive impairment. There is also an association between recreational use of marijuana in this population and onset of psychotic mental illness such as schizophrenia. Much remains unknown about who is at risk and whether these risks with recreational marijuana use apply to use of particular medical cannabis products.

Recreational use of marijuana is known to sometimes cause psychotic episodes. There is some evidence that cannabis adds to the risk of developing psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia — especially in persons who also have other risk factors.

Because there is evidence that cannabis use by people with a diagnosed psychotic disorder results in worse outcomes, medical cannabis — especially products with high levels of THC — should be avoided in persons with psychotic disorders.

Use of medical cannabis could lead to cannabis dependence and addiction. The risk of addiction is likely to be higher with products that are high in THC and for persons who have already experienced addictions.

Among heavy, regular users of recreational marijuana, stopping use abruptly can lead to distressing withdrawal symptoms for several days.