North Dakota Marijuana Laws 

6 min read

North Dakota Marijuana Laws 

April 3, 2023

Is Marijuana Legal in North Dakota? 

Marijuana laws have been a topic of debate and discussion in North Dakota for several years. As with many states in the United States, the use and possession of cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes have been contentious issues. North Dakota has a long history with marijuana laws, with the state first enacting strict marijuana prohibition laws in the early 20th century. However, in recent years, there have been efforts to relax these laws, with the legalization of medical marijuana in 2016 and the decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana in 2019. Despite these changes, there is still much debate surrounding legalizing recreational cannabis in the state. This article will explore the current state of marijuana laws in North Dakota and examine the ongoing efforts to change them.

Who Can Purchase Marijuana in North Dakota? 

The state of North Dakota has strict criminal laws regarding marijuana. Having less than 0.5 ounces of the substance can lead to imprisonment for up to 30 days or a maximum fine of $1,000. Possessing more than one ounce can escalate the offense to a felony, and selling more than 100 pounds of marijuana can result in a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

In North Dakota, only individuals with a qualifying medical condition who have been approved for the state’s medical marijuana program and possess a physician’s recommendation can legally purchase up to three ounces of herbal medical cannabis provided by state-licensed dispensaries. 

Where Can I Use Marijuana in North Dakota? 

The state’s medical marijuana law prohibits smoking marijuana in public places, on school grounds, and in vehicles. While medical marijuana can be used in private residences, property owners may prohibit its use on their premises. It is important to note that the recreational use of marijuana is still illegal in North Dakota, and using it for non-medical purposes can result in legal penalties. 

Medical Marijuana in North Dakota

In North Dakota, medical marijuana was legalized in 2016 through the Compassionate Care Act, which allows patients with qualifying medical conditions to access marijuana for therapeutic purposes. To be eligible for the state’s medical marijuana program, patients must have a recommendation from a licensed healthcare provider and apply for a Medical Marijuana Registry Identification card through the North Dakota Department of Health.

The qualifying medical conditions for medical marijuana in North Dakota include:

  • Cancer;
  • Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus;
  • Acquired immune deficiency syndrome;
  • Decompensated cirrhosis caused by hepatitis C;
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis;
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder;
  • Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia;
  • Crohn’s disease;
  • Fibromyalgia;
  • Spinal stenosis or chronic back pain, including neuropathy or damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of
    intractable spasticity;
  • Glaucoma;
  • Epilepsy;
  • Anorexia nervosa;
  • Bulimia nervosa;
  • Anxiety disorder;
  • Tourette syndrome;
  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome;
  • Endometriosis;
  • Interstitial cystitis;
  • Neuropathy;
  • Migraine;
  • Rheumatoid arthritis;
  • Autism spectrum disorder;
  • A brain injury;
  • A terminal illness; or
  • A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or treatment for such disease or medical condition that produces one or more of the following: Cachexia or wasting syndrome;
  • Severe debilitating pain that has not responded to previously prescribed medication or surgical measures for more than three months or for which other treatment options produced serious side effects;
  • Intractable nausea;
  • Seizures; or
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristics of
    multiple sclerosis.

It is important to note that North Dakota has a relatively limited medical marijuana program compared to other states. For instance, smoking marijuana is prohibited, and patients can only access the substance in the form of oils, capsules, tinctures, or topical preparations. Additionally, patients are only allowed to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana per 30-day period. The insurance doesn’t cover medical marijuana programs or other medical expenses related to marijuana use.

Despite the restrictions, the legalization of medical marijuana has provided relief for many North Dakotans suffering from debilitating medical conditions. According to the North Dakota Department of Health, as of March 2023, over 4,500 residents are registered medical marijuana patients. Additionally, the program has generated over $30 million in revenue since its launch, with the state using the funds to support medical research and other public health initiatives.

Overall, the legalization of medical marijuana in North Dakota has provided a new avenue for patients to manage chronic pain and other debilitating medical conditions. While the program has its limitations, it has also generated significant revenue for the state and has the potential to provide relief for many North Dakotans in need.

Growing Marijuana in North Dakota

Marijuana cultivation is currently illegal in North Dakota for recreational purposes and is only allowed for medical purposes with proper licensing and regulation. 

If you are planning to grow marijuana for medical purposes, you must be a registered patient with a qualifying condition and obtain a medical marijuana card from the North Dakota Department of Health. You are legally required to grow a maximum of eight flowering marijuana plants inside your home, solely for personal use, if you have a medical marijuana card in North Dakota. Failure to comply with this law may result in significant fines and legal consequences.

Driving Under the Influence

In North Dakota, driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal and punishable by law. If a person is found to be driving while impaired by marijuana, they can be charged with a DUI offense. The state has a “per se” law that considers a driver to be under the influence if they have a THC concentration of 5 nanograms or more per milliliter of blood. Penalties for a first-time DUI offense include fines, license suspension, mandatory drug and alcohol education, and even jail time. Repeat offenses can result in more severe penalties, including longer license suspension and increased fines. It’s important to understand the legal consequences of driving under the influence of marijuana and to always prioritize safety on the road.

Advertising and Labeling Laws

Advertising and labeling laws for marijuana products in North Dakota focus on medical marijuana.

Under North Dakota law, medical marijuana products must be labeled with certain information, including the name and address of the registered facility that manufactured or distributed the product, the date of manufacture and expiration, the batch number, and a warning that the product is for medical use only and is not for resale or transfer to another person.

Additionally, medical marijuana products cannot be advertised to the general public in North Dakota. Only registered facilities and licensed practitioners are allowed to provide information about medical marijuana products to patients who have been authorized to use them.

Moreover, the use of false or misleading statements in advertising medical marijuana products is strictly prohibited, and all advertising materials must be approved by the North Dakota Department of Health before being disseminated to patients or healthcare providers.


In conclusion, North Dakota marijuana laws remain relatively strict, with only medical use being legalized and heavily regulated. Despite a failed attempt to legalize recreational use through a ballot initiative in 2018, there are ongoing efforts to push for legalization in the state. However, it is unclear when or if such measures will be successful. For now, those who use marijuana in North Dakota must do so within the bounds of the law. Those seeking access for medical reasons must follow strict guidelines to obtain the necessary certification and products.


It’s important to note that the information provided regarding marijuana laws in North Dakota is not intended as legal advice and should be taken as a general guide only. Please be aware that the laws are regularly updated, and subject to change, so seeking professional legal advice for any specific legal questions or concerns is recommended.