North Dakota Cannabis Law History

The North Dakota Compassionate Care Act appeared on the November 8, 2016 ballot and went into effect one month later, on December 8, 2016. Also known as Measure 5, the initiated state statute made it legal for patients in the state to use medical cannabis products under a program established and implemented by the state’s Department of Health (DOH). On April 17, 2017, Governor Doug Burgum signed SB 2344, a legislative amendment with the purpose of incorporating the priorities of the Cole Memo.

The DOH established the Division of Medical Marijuana to oversee the implementation of the program. The state has established 8 regions for medical marijuana dispensaries. The regions center around the state’s largest cities — Fargo, Bismarck, Grand Forks, Minot, Devils Lake, Jamestown, Williston and Dickinson.

Qualifying Conditions

  • Cancer
  • Hepatitis C
  • ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (must be diagnosed by a licensed psychiatrist)
  • Alzheimer’s disease/dementia/treatment of these conditions
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Chronic back pain (including Neuropathy or damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity)
  • Glaucoma
  • Epilepsy
  • A chronic/debilitating disease, medical condition, or treatment thereof that produces on 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 or persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those characteristic of Multiple Sclerosis.


Key Dates

The administrative rules governing the state’s program were approved on March 12th, 2018. They will go into effect on April 1st, 2018.

The application period for manufacturing facilities opened on March 16th, 2018. It will close on April 19th, 2018.

The application period for dispensing facilities is to be announced, but will come after manufacturing facility licenses have been awarded.

Application Fees/Start-up Costs

The non-refundable application fee for both types of Compassion Centers is $5,000.

The certification fee for a manufacturing facility’s registration is $110,000 every two (2) years.  The certification fee for a dispensary’s registration is $90,000 every two (2) years.  

“The department shall determine the amount and acceptable evidence of the financial assurance or security bond required in North Dakota Century Code section 19-24.1-15(1). The amount may not exceed one hundred thousand dollars for a dispensary and may not exceed one million dollars for a manufacturing facility.”

License types

Up to two (2) manufacturing facility licenses. Manufacturing facilities perform both cultivation and processing activities.

Up to eight (8) dispensary licenses, one in each region outlined by this map.

Both manufacturing facilities and dispensaries are referred to as “Compassion Centers”.


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       Photo by Scott Bauer