December 15, 2023 6 min read

North Dakota has experienced notable changes in its cannabis laws, moving from strict prohibition to allowing medical cannabis and reducing penalties for recreational use. Understanding these regulations might seem intricate, so let's explore the evolving cannabis legislation in North Dakota. 

We'll cover possession rules, cultivation restrictions, penalties, and the procedures related to obtaining and distributing medical marijuana. Let's delve into the dynamic transformations in North Dakota's cannabis laws.

Table of Contents
Is Cannabis Legal in North Dakota?
North Dakota Cannabis Laws
How the Legal Sale of Cannabis Happens
Penalties for Marijuana-Related Crimes
Where to Buy Cannabis Online

Key Takeaways

  • Cannabis is legal for medical use in North Dakota.
  • Adults can buy up to 7.5 ounces of cannabis over a 30 day period. 
  • There are penalties for possessing more than the allowable amount of cannabis, for unlicensed sales, and for consuming in public spaces. 

Is Cannabis Legal in North Dakota?

Cannabis grown outdoors for sale in North Dakota cannabis dispensaries.

In North Dakota, medical marijuana is legal, but recreational use remains illegal. Possession of less than 0.5 ounces by adults over 21 for personal use is decriminalized, carrying a fine up to $1,000 without imprisonment or criminal record. 

The state legalized medical marijuana in 2016 under the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act, allowing registered individuals with specific medical conditions to purchase and hold up to 3 ounces (85 grams) of medical marijuana or 2,000 milligrams of THC in a 30-day period.

Regulations for Medical Use

Patients with a North Dakota medical marijuana card may:

  • purchase up to 7.5 ounces from dispensaries over a thirty day period, or up to 6,000 mg of THC in concentrates, solutions, topicals, capsules, and transdermal patches. 
  • Possess up to the same limit in their homes
  • Use cannabis in a private residence or approved medical facilities.
  • Transport cannabis in a private vehicle in a sealed container in an area that is out of reach to passengers, such as in the trunk. 
  • Be granted a medical cannabis card if under the age of 21. Those under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian's approval and must establish a caretaker to purchase and administer cannabis. 

Restrictions for Medical Cannabis Users

Although cannabis is legal for those with a medical card, there are some restrictions in North Dakota. For instance:

  • North Dakota does not recognize out of state medical cannabis cards. If you are arrested for the possession of cannabis, you will have an affirmative defense in court provided that you have your registry ID on your person at the time. 
  • Medical patients cannot cultivate cannabis. 
  • Cannabis cannot be transferred or gifted. 

Qualifying Conditions for Medical Cannabis in North Dakota

The qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in North Dakota include:

  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Alzheimer’s disease (or related dementia)
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Cancer
  • Brain injury
  • Epilepsy
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Endometriosis
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
  • Cachexia
  • Anxiety disorder
  • A chronic or debilitating disease
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Migraine
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hepatitis C
  • Intractable nausea
  • Neuropathy
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Severe debilitating pain
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Seizures
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Restrictions for Cannabis Use in North Dakota

In North Dakota, here are the key restrictions regarding marijuana:

  • Medical use is legal for registered patients, but recreational use remains illegal.
  • Medical cardholders can possess up to 3 ounces from licensed centers and 2,000 milligrams of THC in a 30-day period.
  • Possession of under 0.5 ounces by adults over 21 incurs a fine of up to $1,000 without jail time.
  • Only licensed facilities can grow marijuana.
  • Dispensaries can only obtain lab-tested marijuana from licensed facilities.
  • Illegal to possess or use marijuana on federal lands or buildings.
  • Possessing or using marijuana is illegal on school grounds or buses.
  • Taking marijuana across state lines, even medical marijuana, is illegal.
  • Out-of-state medical cards are not recognized in North Dakota.
  • Marijuana must be used in private residences unless property owners allow it.
  • Severe penalties for involving minors in marijuana-related activities.
  • Operating a vehicle under the influence can lead to imprisonment and license suspension.
  • Employers aren't obliged to accommodate medical marijuana use for employees.

North Dakota Cannabis Laws

Certainly! Here's a breakdown of specific bills and measures related to marijuana in North Dakota:

Initiated Measure 5 (2016)

Legalized medical marijuana, permitting the Division of Medical Marijuana to license manufacturing facilities and compassionate centers. Initially allowed home cultivation, later removed by legislative amendment in 2017.

House Bill 1050 (2019)

 Decriminalized possession of less than 0.5 ounces of marijuana and paraphernalia, reclassifying it as a criminal infraction with a fine up to $1,000, removing imprisonment and reducing penalties for larger amounts.

House Bill 1420 (2021)

Proposed adult possession of up to 1 ounce, licensing of marijuana businesses for cultivation, processing, and sales. Rejected in the North Dakota Senate.

House Bill 1501 (2022)

Aimed to impose a 15% tax on recreational marijuana upon legalization but was rejected by the North Dakota Senate.

House Concurrent Resolution 3031 (HCR 3031) (2022)

Sought a ballot measure for recreational marijuana legalization in 2022. Would have legalized possession, sale, and use for adults aged 21 and older starting from August 1, 2023. Failed in the House.

Measure 2 (2022 Ballot Initiative)

Initiated by New Approach North Dakota, this measure, akin to HB 1420, aimed to legalize adult-use marijuana. It directed regulators to establish an adult-use program by October 1, 2023. Rejected by voters in the 2022 elections by a 55% to 45% vote.

How Cannabis is Bought and Sold in North Dakota

In North Dakota, recreational marijuana sales remain illegal as of 2023. However, registered medical marijuana patients and caregivers can buy specific forms of medical cannabis, concentrates, and cannabinoids from licensed dispensaries known as compassion centers. These purchases require presentation of the North Dakota Medical Marijuana Registry ID cards, specifying the maximum allowable amount within 30 days.


Since 2017, compassion centers have operated under guidelines set by the Division of Medical Marijuana. They're authorized to sell various forms of marijuana, including capsules, concentrates, patches, tinctures, topicals, and dried leaves/flowers. Cardholders can only purchase dried leaves and flowers if specified on their ID cards. Notably, edibles and marijuana-infused drinks remain illegal in the state.

Penalties for Marijuana-related Crimes in North Dakota

Cannabis is legal for medical patients only. Recreational use is still prohibited in North Dakota, and there are some penalties for marijuana-related offenses:

Possession Penalties:

  • Ingesting any amount of marijuana outside of medical use:Misdemeanor, up to 30 days in jail, and/or a max fine of $1,500.
  • Possession of less than 1/2 ounce (14.175 grams): Criminal infraction, fine up to $1,000.
  • Possession of over 1/2 ounce but less than 500 grams: Misdemeanor, max 30 days jail and $1,500 fine.
  • Possession of over 500 grams:Misdemeanor, max 360 days jail and $3,000 fine.

Sale Penalties:

  • Sale of any amount of marijuana: Felony, up to 5 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
  • Soliciting minors or selling near a school:Felony, up to 10 years imprisonment and a $20,000 fine.

Cultivation Penalties

  • Penalties align with possession laws.

Hash & Concentrates Penalties:

  • Ingesting or possessing hashish: Misdemeanor, up to 30 days jail and $1,500 fine.
  • Possession of less than 2 grams of hashish or concentrates:Criminal infraction, fine up to $1,500.
  • Possession of 2 to 6 grams:Misdemeanor, max 30 days jail and $1,500 fine.
  • Possession of over 6 grams:Misdemeanor, max 360 days jail and $3,000 fine.
  • Manufacturing or delivery:Felony, up to 10 years imprisonment and a $20,000 fine.

Paraphernalia Penalties:

  • Possession to ingest: Criminal infraction, fine up to $1,000.
  • Possession for cultivation, etc:Misdemeanor, max 360 days jail and $3,000 fine.
  • Manufacture, delivery, or advertisement: Misdemeanor, max 360 days jail and $3,000 fine.
  • Providing paraphernalia to a minor:Felony, up to 5 years imprisonment and $10,000 fine.

Legal Cannabis and Buy Online Alternatives

Although cannabis is legal in many states, hemp-derived THC products are still rising as a noteworthy alternative thanks to their affordability and accessibility. Hemp-derived THC products are federally legal, unlike traditional marijuana products, meaning they can often be ordered online and shipped right to your door. 

Read “Is Delta-8 Legal? A State by State Guide to Delta-8-THC Laws” to learn more about hemp THC laws near you, then check out our Elev8 and Cloud9 Collections.

Vida Optima Cloud9 Delta-9-THC Gummies


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