A group in Montana took the first step this week toward getting a pair of initiatives aimed at legalizing marijuana on the state’s ballot in November.
New Approach Montana submitted two separate proposals to Montana’s secretary of state on Monday after spending the past year gathering input from voters throughout the state.
“We met with thousands of Montanans and tried to gather as many relevant opinions as possible,” said New Approach Montana political director Pepper Peterson said, as quoted by NBC Montana.
The group’s two-pronged approach to legalization includes an initiative that would legalize pot in Montana for adults aged 21 and older, while also creating a regulatory framework for cultivation and sales; the other proposal is a constitutional amendment that would allow the legal minimum age for marijuana consumption to be 21.
New Approach Montana says the complementary proposals will “replace the harmful policy of marijuana prohibition with a system to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adults 21 and older.”
“Through the passage of two 2020 ballot initiatives, we envision a Montana in which adults are no longer arrested for responsibly consuming marijuana and where tax proceeds from marijuana sales are invested in health care, education, infrastructure, and conservation efforts,” the group’s mission statement reads.
The Next Steps
New Approach Montana must now await state approval on the drafted proposals before it can begin rounding up signatures to get them both on this year’s ballot.
The group will need 25,468 signatures for the ballot initiative to qualify, and 50,936 signatures for the constitutional amendment to make it onto the ballot.
Peterson said that the state has seen a dip in revenues, which makes the proposals all the more attractive.
“I’ve heard a lot about holes in the budget,” Petersen said, as quoted by The Missoulian. “I don’t want to see a state sales tax, and I don’t know many people who do outside the legislative halls. I just think you have to face reality when you look at the budgets, and I think this will be an attractive source of income.”
If the proposals qualify for the ballot, Montana will have the opportunity to become the 12th state to legalize recreational marijuana use. Its neighbor to the east, South Dakota, will decide on a pair of marijuana proposals this year, as well: one to legalize medical cannabis, and the other to lift the prohibition on recreational pot.