Montana Recreational Marijuana Ballot Initiative Secures Millions in Backing

A nationally-backed Montana cannabis advocacy group has more than $3 million to spend on efforts to legalize recreational marijuana with a 2020 Montana ballot measure.

Montana residents supporting recreational marijuana legalization will be encouraged to hear that advocates have access to millions of dollars in support for two ballot measures in the 2020 state election.

“We’re confident that we’re going to be on the ballot,” Pepper Petersen, political director for New Approach Montana, told the Missoula Current. “I’m very confident that we’ll be able to pass this initiative.”

Placing and passing a marijuana initiative on Montana’s Nov. 2020 ballot was originally an effort by Montana-based pro-marijuana group Coalition406. The group had been working to present a measure that would legalize and regulate marijuana, as well as establish a sales tax revenue system.

The group announced this month that they have partnered with a national pro-cannabis organization to form a super-group named New Approach Montana to support Montana’s cannabis advocacy community.

Pair of Measures

New Approach Montana will act as the financing arm of the recreational marijuana campaign to attempt to qualify and pass a ballot package consisting of two measures.

The first of the companion measures is intended to legalize marijuana use for adults.

The objective of the second is to make a separate constitutional amendment granting the state legislature the right to restrict marijuana use to those 21 years of age and older. The Montana state constitution currently identifies an adult as a person 18 years of age or older.

“I have every faith that these are gonna pass,” Petersen told Montana Public Radio. “There seems to be an inevitability coming from the federal government. So let’s do something in Montana that we own, rather than something that D.C. hands us.”

New Approach Montana’s national partnerships include D.C.-based New Approach PAC and the Marijuana Policy Project. New Approach PAC is a pro-marijuana political action committee with a history of raising millions of dollars to support cannabis legalization efforts across the U.S., according to a Fortune report. Most recently New Approach PAC has financially backed marijuana ballot initiatives in Florida, Michigan, and Nebraska.

The text for the ballot package is reportedly not finalized at this point. The group campaigning for recreational marijuana legalization in Montana must wait for state approval to start collecting signatures from state-registered voters. The deadline to collect signatures will be in June 2020.

Montana Marijuana Laws

Medical marijuana has been legal in Montana for those who qualify since ballot measure Initiative 148 was approved in 2004. Still, the state has been a battleground for medical marijuana access.

In 2011, a proposal to repeal the state’s medical marijuana program was approved by state lawmakers, but eventually vetoed by the state’s governor, Brian Schweitzer.

In 2016, voters passed an initiative expanding the state’s medical marijuana program by adding post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions. Initiative-182 also repealed a three-patient limit for medical providers, which limited caregivers to assisting only three patients and prohibited the caregivers to accept anything of value, including money, for the services or products they provided to medical marijuana patients.

Possession of any amount of cannabis in Montana without a medical license is illegal.

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