Panel Reviews North Dakota Legalization Ballot Measure Costs

The agencies’ assessments will be made public through the secretary of state’s office

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A measure to legalize marijuana in North Dakota would cost more than $2 million annually for the first three years if it’s approved, though tax revenue and other fees generated from the sales are not yet known, according to agency estimates provided to lawmakers Wednesday.

The Legislative Management Committee, which includes the Legislature’s Republican and Democratic floor leaders, accepted agencies’ assessments as part of a review of November’s four ballot measures and their potential budget consequences for North Dakota state government.

The agencies’ assessments will be made public through the secretary of state’s office.

Backers of the marijuana proposal seek to legalize pot for people 21 and older. Approval of the measure also would seal the records of people in North Dakota convicted of a marijuana-related crime that would be made legal under the measure.

The state attorney general’s office estimated 124 temporary workers would have to be hired at a cost of $1.1 million to “expunge” nearly 180,000 pot-related criminal records.

Other costs include an estimate by the state Health Department which wants to spend more than $4 million in the next two-year budget cycle for additional staff and an education campaign aimed at “the health impact and physical addiction attributed to marijuana use among youth.”


Democratic House Minority Leader Cory Mock of Grand Forks and Bismarck Democratic Sen. Erin Oban, spoke against including Health Department’s assessment because the education component, that they said is probably needed, was not part of the measure’s intent.

State budget director Joe Morrissette told The Associated Press that the some of the estimated cost of pot legalization would be made up by sales tax and other fees.

“Some positive revenue impacts that are indeterminable at this time,” he said.

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