Montana Cannabis Legalization Initiatives Qualify For November Ballot

Registered voters in Montana will decide whether or not to legalize adult-use cannabis in November.
Montana Cannabis Legalization Initiatives Qualify For November Ballot

Two separate cannabis initiatives have qualified for the general election ballot in Montana, making it the sixth state in the nation that will be voting on a legalization measure in November. On Thursday, the office of Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton revealed that supporters for Initiative 190 and Constitutional Initiative 118 had collected enough signatures to qualify both measures for the ballot.

Initiative 190 would legalize the possession and sale of small amounts of marijuana for adult use and establish a regulatory system to license cannabis businesses. The measure also levies a tax of 20% on recreational marijuana and reduces the existing tax on medical cannabis from 1% to 2%. The initiative also authorizes the home cultivation of up to four mature cannabis plants and four seedlings.

Revenue from the tax on adult-use cannabis would be allocated to land, water, and wildlife conservation programs, veteran services, substance abuse treatment, long-term health care, and local governments. Proponents of the measure have estimated that it would raise $48 million in tax revenue by 2025.

Constitutional Initiative 118 would amend the Montana Constitution to allow the state legislature to set the legal age to make cannabis purchases at 21. Currently, the constitution grants all of the rights of an adult to all persons age 18 or older, except for the purchase of alcohol.

More Than Enough Signatures Collected

Petitions for both initiatives were circulated by New Approach Montana, which collected more than 130,000 signatures to put the measures on the ballot. To qualify, Initiative 190 needed approximately 25,000 verified signatures, while the constitutional initiative required about 50,000 signatures. The group reports that it spent approximately $2 million on its signature-gathering effort and other expenses related to qualifying the two initiatives for the ballot.

Pepper Petersen, a campaign spokesperson for the group, expressed optimism at the news that the legalization measures had qualified for the ballot.

“Our research has always shown that a majority of Montanans support legalization, and now voters will have the opportunity to enact that policy, which will create jobs and generate new revenue for our state,” said Petersen.

The announcement was also lauded by Matthew Schweich, the deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project, a national group that backed the Montana ballot initiatives. 

“This is great news for Montana voters who will now have the opportunity to enact a marijuana legalization policy that will create jobs, generate revenue and allow law enforcement to focus on real crime,” Schweich said in a press release.

Six States To Vote On Cannabis In November

Montana legalized the medicinal use of cannabis with the passage of a voter initiative in 2004, and in 2016 approved another measure expanding the program. With Thursday’s announcement, the state joins five other states that will vote on cannabis legalization ballot measures, according to information from the Marijuana Policy Project. 

In addition to the Treasure State, voters in Arizona and New Jersey will vote on legalizing cannabis for use by adults. In Mississippi and Nebraska, ballots will include measures to legalize medical marijuana, while South Dakota voters will see separate initiatives to legalize both medicinal and recreational cannabis.

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