BISMARCK, N.D. - A bill passed by the North Dakota Senate would remove “the growing or processing of marijuana” from the definition of “farming or ranching,” which would mean growing marijuana would not be included under the state’s ban on corporate farming.

North Dakota’s existing corporate farming law limits corporate farming to entities that consist of up to 15 shareholders who must be closely related or closely related through marriage. Under Senate Bill 2200, marijuana grown for medicinal purposes under North Dakota law would not be considered farming or ranching.

SB 2200 unanimously passed the Senate in late January but has yet to be assigned to a House committee.

The floor discussion of the bill lasted only a few minutes. Sen. Arne Ostland, R-Mayville, introduced the bill as a representative of the Senate Agriculture Committee, which had given the bill a do-pass recommendation. Ostland’s urging of passage included little explanation of its purpose but did point out that its sponsors were leadership from both parties: Senate majority and minority leaders Rich Wardner and Joan Heckaman and House majority and minority leaders Chet Pollert and Josh Boschee.

Sen. Jerry Klein, R-Fessenden, the assistant majority leader of the Senate, gave a little more explanation but still didn’t delve into the need for the bill.

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“The attempt here is to make sure that we understand that medical marijuana growing is not going to fall under the corporate farm exclusion,” Klein said.

An unrelated bill that would open up corporate farming to second cousins, House Bill 1388, has been assigned the House Agriculture Committee. No hearing date has been set.