The North Dakota Compassionate Care Act would allow for the possession of up to 3 ounces of marijuana for qualifying conditions such as AIDS, cancer, epilepsy and glaucoma. Pictured: Kate Panetta of Natural Remedies removes medical marijuana from a jar for a customer at the Denver dispensary in August 2013. (Hyoung Chang, Denver Post file)

North Dakota medical marijuana: Voters say yes after lawmakers said no

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BISMARCK, N.D. — Voters in North Dakota have trumped state lawmakers by approving medical marijuana.

The measure approved Tuesday will allow qualifying patients to have up to 3 ounces of medical marijuana for treatment of about a dozen debilitating conditions such as cancer, glaucoma and epilepsy. The state Health Department will issue ID cards for patients and dispensaries will be regulated.

Supporters of Measure 5 said marijuana helps relieve chronic pain and lessens side effects of other treatments such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Opponents of the measure said there were too many unanswered questions about appropriate dosages and that there weren’t enough safeguards to make sure medical marijuana is controlled.

The state Legislature rejected a medical marijuana bill last session.

Supporters of a measure that will allow the use of medical marijuana say the law will improve the quality of life for many North Dakotans.

North Dakota Compassionate Care spokeswoman Anita Morgan says her group is proud of residents for “standing up for patients at the polls.” She says supporters look forward to working with the state Department of Health and other officials to get the program started.

Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority says North Dakota approved the law with an effort that was “largely off the radar” and showed that any state could be next to change its laws.

The measure was opposed by the North Dakota Medical Association. The group’s executive director, Courtney Koebele, says the association is disappointed and is worried about the safety of the law and the loopholes for growing and using pot.