Legalized marijuana vote shows seriousness of medical pot proponents

Two years ago, when North Dakota voters overwhelmingly approved the utilization of medical cannabis, some believed that this was just an effort to move toward legal cannabis for everyone, for strictly recreational purposes.

This week, legal recreational marijuana went down in flames. And no one got a buzz.

What do these two very different results mean?

It means that those who voted two years ago for medical use of marijuana – many at least – were very serious about the medical component of the law, and serious about a system to administer it appropriately in conjunction with the medical establishment. If the bulk of those voters were simply in favor of decriminalization of marijuana, then Measure 3 would have sailed through to victory.

Measure 3 was poorly constructed and there were plenty of reasons to oppose it. But it says something about the voters of North Dakota that they were able to understand this.

However, the state has also been sent a very strong message. Some of the support for Measure 3 this year stems from the view that the state has dragged its feet in instituting a system for medical cannabis; some proponents were sending a message. Make no mistake, if North Dakota doesn’t have a medical system in place, something like Measure 3 only better written will come back around, more people will be ready to cast a protest vote and this state will face legal recreational marijuana and elected officials will be able to to nothing about it.

So, while Measure 3 was handily defeated this week, the support it did receive should serve as a warning to the Legislature. If the Legislature can’t react appropriately and in a timely fashion to initiated measures, then it just invites more micromanagement.

It’s something legislators should keep in the forefront of the their minds.