2020-21 Improvements and Recommendations

2021 was a year of growth for North Dakota’s patient registry as the population more than doubled over the number cited in our last report. Despite the growth, patients in North Dakota complained that a shortage of doctors willing to recommend cannabis has made access to the program difficult. The first of two pieces of legislation on medical cannabis that went into effect in 2021 may help the problem. HB 1213 which made some language changes to some statutory definitions, most notably making it easier to establish a “bona fide” relationship to receive a recommendation for medical cannabis from a medical provider. The bill also made a modification to the application fees for cannabis businesses by replacing a set fee with “fee not to exceed”. This is a move that could signal the state is willing to license more cannabis businesses which ASA would highly recommend; eight retailers is simply not adequate for a state the size of North Dakota and as the program continues to grow, it is likely to become an issue.

HB 1359 was the second piece of North Dakota legislation to go into effect in 2021. It made some minor rule changes for caregivers; raising the cap on the number of patients each caregiver may serve, as well as eliminating the application fee, and in some cases the background check. The bill also included a provision to expand the membership of the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board to include physicians and patients, though these new positions have yet to be filled.

In 2022, ASA recommends that lawmakers In South Dakota prioritize improving access to cannabis - a category where the state only scored 10% of available points. The state can do this by passing a law that would recognize out of state patient registrations, allow home cultivation for patients and caregivers, and give licensed retailers the option to offer delivery and curbside pickup.