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We’re legalized! Now what?
From Ballotpedia- “Initiative 190 legalized the possession and use of one ounce or less of marijuana or 8 grams or less of marijuana concentrate by persons over the age of 21 in Montana. It allowed individuals to grow no more than four marijuana plants and four seedlings for personal use in their residence, as long as the plants are within an enclosed area with a lock and beyond public view. Montana residents would be allowed to possess, use, and grow marijuana on January 1, 2021.
The Montana Department of Revenue is responsible for regulating the cultivation, manufacture, transport, and sale of marijuana in Montana. It would begin accepting marijuana provider and dispensary applications by January 1, 2022.
Marijuana and marijuana-infused product sales would be taxed at 20% of the retail price. After deducting any administrative costs incurred by the department to enforce the initiative, the tax revenue was set to be allocated to the general fund, conservation programs, veterans programs, drug addiction treatment programs, local authorities enforcing the initiative, and healthcare workers.
I-190 authorized local authorities to regulate by ordinances or resolutions marijuana establishment and testing facilities.
Under Initiative 190, persons serving marijuana-related sentences that are no longer crimes under the initiative or have a lesser punishment may request to be resentenced or have the conviction expunged depending on the circumstances.”
In other words, every cannabis measure passed.
“With the passage of these initiatives, one-third of the population now lives in jurisdictions that have legalized cannabis for adult use, and 70% of all states have embraced cannabis for medical use. The federal government is out of step with a clear national trend toward legalization,” said Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. “We can put an end to the social injustices and other harms that result from the criminalization of marijuana. While cannabis legalization is not the cure-all to end the war on drugs, it is a necessary step and would provide an opportunity for many long-oppressed communities to finally have a chance to heal.”
The bill is not without its opponents in the traditionally conservative state.
On October 16th, anti-legalization group Wrong For Montana petitioned the state’s Supreme Court to remove I-190 from the ballot, arguing that the bill, which holds that the state allocate half of the revenue generated from cannabis sales to environmental conservation programs, violates state law. “According to the Montana constitution, Article III, Section IV, you cannot allocate the revenue from an initiative, as funds must be allocated from the general fund by the Montana Legislature,” Wrong For Montana’s Steve Zabawa told local station KGVO.
And now that it passed- Wrong For Montana is suing.
According to an article on the KTVH station’s website: Zabawa claims I-190 should be “void in its entirety” because the state constitution says a ballot initiative can’t appropriate money. In a statement, he accused proponents of “misleading the Montana Voter to think that the Vets and their family and fish and wildlife department will get a huge chunk of the pot tax revenues. This is not a suggestion, but a lie.”
Before the election, Zabawa asked the Montana Supreme Court to invalidate I-190 for the same reason. The court declined to hear the case, saying the issue should go through a lower court first.
Montana voters approved I-190 in this week’s election, 57% to 43%. Its companion measure, Constitutional Initiative 118 – which allows the state to limit marijuana sales to those 21 and older – passed 58% to 42%.
Pepper Petersen is the founder and political director of New Approach Montana, the committee that backed I-190 and CI-118. In a statement, he pointed to the wide support the measures received and said a “frivolous lawsuit” should not delay the implementation of the measures.
“If Steve Zabawa is unhappy about how tax revenue from eventual marijuana sales is used, then he can wait until the legislature acts in the coming months,” Petersen said. “But his lawsuit today is baseless and certainly premature.”
Cannabis as the “Exit Drug” From Opioid Abuse:
Additional Federal Efforts:
All links listed here are courtesy of Norml- Since its founding in 1970, NORML has provided a voice in the public policy debate for those Americans who oppose marijuana prohibition and favor an end to the practice of arresting marijuana consumers. A nonprofit public-interest advocacy group, NORML represents the interests of the tens of millions of Americans who use marijuana responsibly. NORML’s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults, and to serve as an advocate for consumers to assure they have access to high quality marijuana that is safe, convenient and affordable.
As we wait for voting in September, let’s do a little digging into what initiatives were actually put on the 2020 ballot this year.
According to the New Approach Montana Website:
“Constitutional Initiative 118 allows the minimum legal age for marijuana to be set at 21.
Official Statement of Purpose and Implication:
Under the Montana Constitution, a person 18 years of age or older is an adult, except that the legislature or the people by initiative may establish the legal age of purchasing, consuming, or possessing alcoholic beverages. CI-118 amends the Montana Constitution to allow the legislature or the people by the initiative to establish the legal age for purchasing, consuming, or possessing marijuana.”
“Statutory Initiative 190 legalizes, regulates, and taxes marijuana in Montana.
Official Statement of Purpose and Implication:
I-190 legalizes the possession and use of limited amounts of marijuana for adults over the age of 21. I-190 requires the Department of Revenue to license and regulate the cultivation, transportation, and sale of marijuana and marijuana-infused products and to inspect premises where marijuana is cultivated and sold. It requires licensed laboratories to test marijuana and marijuana-infused products for potency and contaminants. I-190 establishes a 20% tax on non-medical marijuana. 10.5% of the tax revenue goes to the state general fund, with the rest dedicated to accounts for conservation programs, substance abuse treatment, veterans’ services, healthcare costs, and localities where marijuana is sold. I-190 allows a person currently serving a sentence for an act permitted by I-190 to apply for re-sentencing or expungement of the conviction. I-190 prohibits advertising of marijuana and related products.”
“Official Fiscal Statement:
Marijuana taxes and fees will generate about $48 million annually by 2025. Marijuana fees will fund program administration and enforcement. Marijuana taxes will contribute to the general fund and special revenue accounts for conservation, veterans’ services, substance abuse treatment, healthcare, and local governments. The general fund will net $4 million.”
“All registered cardholders will be officially untethered from providers effective June 2, 2020.This means all registered cardholders will be able to purchase medical marijuana from any licensed provider in the state starting on the effective date.”
The back of your medical card will have provider info printed on them and will continue to be honored after untethering takes effect. The MMMP will not issue new cards without provider info to existing registered cardholders until/unless they renew.
New Approach Montana (a political campaign based in Helena, MT) has put forward two connected ballot initiatives — one that would create the legal framework for a recreational marijuana industry and one that would amend the Montana Constitution to limit the sale to adults over 21, just as a similar amendment did for alcohol in 1986.The Campaign is proposing a 20% sales tax on recreational marijuana and a reduction in the sales tax on medical marijuana from 2% to 1%.The group hopes the state Legislature would eliminate the medical marijuana sales tax once the recreational program is fully established. The campaign submitted over 52,000 signatures in support of I-190, a statutory initiative that would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana in Montana, and over 80,000 signatures in support of CI-118, a constitutional initiative that would set the legal minimum age for purchasing,consuming, or possessing marijuana at 21. Those numbers far exceed the minimum requirements of 25,468 and 50,936, respectively. A decision on qualification is expected by mid July.
Rolling out a recreational marijuana program will cost money, but New Approach expects recreational marijuana will ultimately generate revenue for Montana and will allow the state to stop wasting resources on law enforcement, said political director Pepper Petersen. New Approach’s initiative proposes allocating the new tax revenue to conservation, veterans’services, substance abuse treatment, long-term care, local governments where recreational marijuana is sold, and the state’s general fund. The group estimates recreational marijuana will generate more than $35 million in tax revenue annually by 2025.“When we look at the budget shortfalls Montana faces and the declining revenue from natural resources like coal, the question arises: How are we going to fill these holes,” Petersen said.“Recreational marijuana is the answer.”