BISMARCK — The North Dakota Legislature approved a bill reducing penalties for possessing a small amount of marijuana Friday, April 26.
Under House Bill 1050, people caught with less than a half-ounce of marijuana would face an infraction, which carries a maximum fine of $1,000. Marijuana possession is currently a Class B misdemeanor with maximum penalties of 30 days in prison and a $1,500 fine.
An official representing county prosecutors previously said in practice, courts have already been "slapping people on the hands" for small amounts of marijuana.
The bill also bumps up penalties for possessing more than 500 grams, or just over a pound, of marijuana to a Class A misdemeanor, which Fargo Republican Rep. Shannon Roers Jones said is consistent with current law. The finalized bill changed somewhat from previous compromise legislation.
Decriminalization proponents had pushed to further ease marijuana penalties to help address criminal justice concerns stemming from ballot campaigns. Voters rejected a legalization measure last year, but supporters are gearing up for another run in 2020.
The bill now goes to Gov. Doug Burgum for his signature.