Could North Dakota be the next state to legalize marijuana?

A budtender, right, shows cannabis buds to a customer at a marijuana dispensary in Desert Hot Springs, Calif.
(Robyn Beck | AFP | Getty Images)

North Dakotans will vote soon on Measure 3: a proposed law to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older while expunging convictions for marijuana-related crimes.

Two weeks from Election Day, our neighbors to the northwest have serious doubts about a greener future.

A new poll finds 51 percent of voters support recreational marijuana. The poll comes from the pro-legalization group LegalizeND, and it has a 4.9 percent margin of error.

Another poll by a local news station a couple weeks earlier found just 30 percent of people supporting the measure.

No matter these polls’ worth, it’s clear this deeply red state has reservations about weed.

The Bismarck Tribune reported over the weekend on the continuing debate over legalization.

Critics and some supporters alike say the measure is poorly written. State Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, told the newspaper he’ll vote in favor of legalization, but said the Legislature could intervene and change the law if voters pass it.

Police aren’t sure what to make of the proposal either. An open question, the Tribune reports, is what to do with police dogs trained to smell marijuana. There’s also the issue of how to catch people who are driving while high.

The measure also requires expungement of 179,000 criminal records within a 30-day time period, the Tribune reports, which critics argue is too quick.

On the pro-legalization side: fewer people in the legal system with criminal records, farmers being allowed to grow hemp, and increased tourism and tax revenue for the state.

If it did legalize marijuana for recreational use, North Dakota would be an anomaly. Nevada and Alaska are the only legal marijuana states whose politics could be considered even close to those of North Dakota.

Otherwise, recreational marijuana is in left-leaning West Coast states, Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts.