Is Medical-Only Weed Legal in North Dakota?

Medically reviewed by Alexander Tabibi, MD
September 1, 2021
North Dakota Cannabis Legality
North Dakota Cannabis Legality

North Dakota has decriminalized small possession amounts of cannabis; however recreational marijuana remains illegal under state law.  The Peace Garden State does offer a medical marijuana program for patients who have qualifying conditions as determined by state legislators, which gives patients access to weed through dispensaries in places like Bismarck or Fargo that have been licensed by them.

History of Weed Laws

In 2016, voters there passed the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act, or Measure 5, which legalized medical marijuana among patients with qualifying conditions.  It took 2 years for the North Dakota Legislative Assembly to finally develop regulations for sales of marijuana, and so no sales took place until 2018.

Although the 2018 ballot showed that voters supported cultivation of marijuana among patients, the state’s legislators banned home cultivation.

HB 1050 was signed in May of 2019 by Governor Burgum, which decriminalized marijuana possession by allowing up to 0.5 ounces to be punishable by a fine in excess of $1,000 rather than jailtime for first-time offenders. 

That same year, Governor Burgum signed HB 1417, which gave patients with debilitating cancer symptoms authorization to purchase higher amounts of cannabis than previously allowed.  The Governor also signed HB 1519 which added to the list of qualifying conditions for which medical patients could be approved in order to access medical marijuana.

The medical marijuana program in North Dakota is managed by the Department of Health’s Division of Medical Marijuana, where they oversee the application process, regulation of dispensaries and more.

Where Can a Person Legally Purchase Weed in North Dakota?

Because marijuana remains illegal in North Dakota for recreational users, only authorized medical patients or their designated caregivers can purchase cannabis, and it must be strictly from a state-authorized dispensary.  The state has strict rules about what can be purchased, meaning that patients can only buy capsules, concentrates, extracts, dried leaves and flowers, infused solutions, topicals and transdermal patches.

Patients can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of flower, or 4 grams total of THC in other products, per 30 days.  Cancer patients can receive a separate medical card that allows them to purchase up to 6 ounces.  Minors can only purchase products that have a maximum of 6% THC.  The state has several dispensaries throughout, but delivery to patients’ homes is illegal.

Where Can Cannabis Legally Be Used?

It is illegal to consume cannabis in public or at a workplace.  Smoking or vaping marijuana in public is considered the same as consuming tobacco in public, meaning that the same laws apply as to areas that ban tobacco smoking.  It is also illegal to smoke or vaporize cannabis when a minor is present.

Possession Laws

Medical patients can have up to 3 ounces of flower per any 30-day period, while cancer patients with a special authorization can have up to 7.5 ounces.  All medical patients can also have up to 4 grams of THC in the forms of various products.  Meanwhile, minors may not possess flower. 

Anyone who does not have a medical card and possess more than half of an ounce of cannabis can face jailtime, while having less than that amount can come with a $1,000 fine.

Can Residents Grow Their Own?

ND does not permit home cultivation, regardless of your medical status or status as a caregiver.  This means that if you are caught growing your own weed, even on your own private property, you can face criminal charges.

Medical Marijuana

The Division of Medical Marijuana was established by the state’s Department of Health to manage, regulate, and oversee the state’s medical marijuana program.  An application must be submitted to them for patient approval.

Qualifying Conditions:

  • Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorder 
  • Brain injury
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Decompensated cirrhosis caused by hepatitis C
  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, or elastic skin
  • Endometriosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Glaucoma
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Migraine
  • Neuropathy
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Spinal stenosis 
  • Terminal illness
  • Tourette syndrome
  • A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or their treatment that produces one or more of the following: 
    • Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
    • Intractable nausea
    • Seizures
    • Severe debilitating pain that has not responded to conventional treatment for more than three months, or for which other treatment options produced serious side effects
    • Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including multiple sclerosis.

Patient Qualifications:

A patient must be 19 years of age or older to apply, although a minor can have a parent or legal guardian apply on their behalf. 

How to Register for Medical Marijuana in North Dakota

A patient must fill out an application form that is provided by the state’s Division of Medical Marijuana, through their website.  Along with the form they must provide the contact information of their certifying physician, a copy of a state-issued ID to prove residency, and a passport-style photo.  There is a $50 application fee.

Qualifying as a Caregiver

North Dakota requires that a caregiver be at least 21 years of age, and they can only care for 5 patients at a time.  If they themselves are a patient, they can only care for 4 patients at a time.

Registering as a Caregiver

A caregiver must fill out an application form through the state’s medical marijuana registry website.  They must also provide a state-issued ID, a passport-style photo and the patient’s 10-digit code.  They must submit to a background check and pay a $50 fee for applying.

Reciprocity Laws

North Dakota does not have reciprocity, which means that dispensaries there do not recognize medical marijuana cards from out-of-state residents.  Also, patients who are moving to ND must apply for a new medical marijuana card.


All marijuana products are required by law to undergo a third-party testing process by a state-approved laboratory.  This testing process identifies the cannabinoid profile and potency of the product along with the presence of impurities, contaminants, and other unwanted compounds to ensure safety.