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The State’s Attorneys Winter Conference is just two weeks away and, the big topic? Pot.

By Pat Merriman
Not the device you make stew in, rather, our old friend that just won’t die…recreational marijuana.
On Nov. 28, the Dickinson Press printed the first completely truthful thing I’ve heard on the topic since it reared its head during the last election, albeit, as medicine.
It seems it was never about “medical” anything when David Owen delivered his second petition to turn North Dakota into California and legalize recreational pot two months ago.
Recall, he’s the same David Owen who, on February 18, 2016, reported that he was a UND student who wanted to fully legalize the stuff back then.
Remember, there were two ballot initiatives last time—medicine and amusement.
At that time, Owen touted that he didn’t want voters to grant free, unfettered toking everywhere— he just wanted our state to stop felonizing poor college students, “If you possess a gram of marijuana, congratulations, you are a felon.
And you will never be able to really get a good job, because felons don’t get good jobs.”
Never mind that simple, first time possession of that amount of pot was NEVER a felony in this state. What’s the truth when the ends justifies the means, right?
Recently, it’s a daily, front-page barrage of “good” news about recreational weed.
Take New Year’s day in the USA Today article, re-printed in the Dickinson Press, Legal Pot Set to Bring New Gold Rush to California.
What the heck does California have to do with western North Dakota?
The article says liberals fear that “corporations” are going to take over the budding (pun intended) pot-growing business.
But, in this article it reiterates what Owen also mentioned back in 2016, “tax on marijuana of 20-percent a year would bring in a pretty good chunk of change to state coffers.
Owen estimates it would bring in 80 to 100-million dollars a year.” USA Today’s point this year, “A new gold rush is sweeping California as the state launches legal marijuana sales Monday… Marijuana has long been one of California’s most important cash crops…[a] black market is worth $13.5 billion…while the legal market could be worth $5.1 billion in 2018.”
And, keep in mind, it’s only 8 states and the District of Columbia who have “legalized” free range toking—Colorado, Oregon, Nevada, Alaska and Washington with “functioning marketplaces in 2017.”
So, despite popular misperception, this is NOT the status quo, it’s the exception.
And, remember former California Attorney General Bill Lockyer?
He took a page from the federal FDA and, after retirement, co-founded a “marijuana distribution company with colleagues drawn from the brewing and alcohol-distribution fields.”
Sort of a state swamp for partiers!
With legalized recreational pot organizers pushing to put their amusement on the November, 2018, ballot (the same ballot I’ll be on for re-election), I think I owe it to my constituents in Dunn County to have an inquiring mind like David Owen at our conference.
Because I’ve watched our local jail fill up with people who should be in the state penitentiary with the inevitable cost being foisted on you guys because of legislative changes in the last biennium.
So, my question is: with this illegal opioid abuse epidemic out here, decriminalization back east, and all of these millions of marijuana tax dollars flowing into Bismarck state coffers this year…exactly how much of that’s going to be earmarked for a drug/alcohol abuse/rehabilitation facility over here on our side of the river?
What with the “no room at the inn” sign and all back east at the penitentiary.

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