Fifteen additional states, now including North Dakota, decriminalized cannabis on a state level. Half of all adults in the U.S. have used an illegal drug at some point. Ending criminal penalties for drug possession, often referred to as decriminalization, which means nobody gets arrested, goes to jail or prison, or faces criminal punishment for possessing a small amount of a drug for personal use.
Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota, signed a bill decriminalizing marijuana last week
— but the issue got little to no attention from his office or news media. They swept it under the rug. They don’t want you to know everything they are doing because of fear from conservative backlash.
The new law makes cannabis possession nothing more than a traffic ticket
The law makes it so first-time possession of up to half an ounce of marijuana is no longer a criminal misdemeanor that carries the potential for jail time, but instead is an infraction that only carries a fine. Which makes it nothing more than a traffic ticket, that will never show up on your record unless you are a repeat offender.
Police can literally refuse to enforce the law if they chose too
This is different from marijuana legalization. Under decriminalization, penalties carrying jail or prison time are removed, but lower-level penalties, like a fine, remain in place and sales remain illegal.
Legalization means, all penalties for marijuana possession are removed, and sales are typically allowed
Some opponents of legalization favor decriminalization as a step toward peeling back America’s harsh drug and criminal justice policies. They see “tough on crime” policies as too punitive and costly, but they don’t want to resort to full legalization, which they fear would make pot too accessible in the US and allow big corporations to sell and market the drug irresponsibly.
Decriminalization means that cannabis is still banned and so is selling marijuana
Cannabis users in North Dakota still won’t have a legal source for the drug, and criminal syndicates would still have the black market at their disposal.
Police can and will still use these laws as an excuse to abuse their authority
The fines, while less punitive than arrests or prison time, will keep the current industry standard, since most stops are racially motivated.