New Approach Montana, a pro-cannabis association, said it had collected enough signatures, despite the difficulties of containment, to present two cannabis legalization initiatives to the next vote in November.
The group submitted more than 80,000 signatures for Constitutional Initiative 118, an amendment that would set the legal age for buying cannabis in Montana at 21. Another 52,000 signatures accompanied a petition for Initiative 190, a separate voting measure that would allow the trade of cannabis in the state while setting a 20% tax on retail sales.
For the constitutional amendment initiative to be eligible for election, supporters must submit at least 50,936 valid signatures from registered voters and must meet a minimum threshold of signatures in at least 40 of the 100 legislative districts of the Montana State House of Representatives. For the statutory initiative to be certified for the November elections, 25,468 verified signatures, including a minimum of at least 34 districts, must be submitted to government officials.
19 states in the United States could legalize cannabis use in 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic.
Strong support for legalization
Despite measures related to the health situation and the limited time for canvassing, the campaign was able to collect enough signatures. A judge had also rejected New Approaches request to collect signatures electronically. The campaign had to hire 200 people to cover the state and collect signatures. County election officials have yet to verify each signature to qualify both measures for the November poll.
Pepper Petersen, the spokesman for New Approach Montana, believes that in November, “there will be overwhelming support for [legalization] in every corner of the state. There is not a legislative district that is not represented in the signatures. We think the support is deep and broad, and it’s really exciting. »
Petersen said the campaign had collected many more signatures than necessary and expected both initiatives to successfully qualify for this year’s general election.
“We are confident that … the verification process will validate our signatures,” he said. “We are delighted with this part of the process. We have been waiting for it for a long time. »