The North Dakota Department of Health says 500 new residents have enrolled in the state's medical marijuana program since the start of the year. Division Director Jason Wahl tells WZFG Radio that the increase comes after the state legislature expanded eligibility rules.  He adds that the opening of the state's 8th dispensary, in December, also fueled the increase.

Wahl says another factor was the change of policy that allows patients to enroll without a doctor's note specifically stating the benefit to the patient.  Wahl says the department is permitted by state law to open more dispensaries if needed, but says it appears the current number of eight will be sufficient for the foreseeable future. Wahl says there are now just over 2,500 people enrolled in the program statewide.

North Dakota voters approved the use of medical marijuana in 2016.