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North Dakota medical marijuana program proving popular

More North Dakotans are participating in the medical marijuana program than the state Department of Health expected.

“We have just under 4,400 patients that have a medical marijuana card,” Medical Marijuana Division Director Jason Wahl told Prairie Public.

He had earlier projected about 4,000 patients by the summer of 2021, based on the experience in Delaware, which North Dakota officials have cited as a model.

Wahl attributes the higher number in part to the 2019 Legislature adding more medical conditions that can be treated with the drug and allowing physician assistants to complete medical marijuana certification forms.

“I think the medical community has now had an opportunity to see how the program has rolled out, and the way the program is working,” Wahl said. “We may have had some in the medical community in a ‘wait-and-see’ position — and now they may be more willing to look at the program as a means for their patients to become eligible for the medical marijuana program as well.”

North Dakota voters approved the drug in November 2016. Lawmakers crafted rules in 2017 and updated them two years later. The state began accepting applications in October 2018 from residents for medical marijuana cards. Some patients initially said it was difficult finding a doctor willing to authorize them. The medical community cited several concerns, including that marijuana is still technically illegal under federal law. [Read more at The Bismarck Tribune]

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