Two initiatives to legalize cannabis for adults will part of the vote this November in the state of Montana. While most other U.S. states have legalized cannabis through a single initiative, Montana’s laws require two measures: a statutory change allowing the taxed and regulated sale of cannabis and a constitutional amendment prohibiting anyone under 21 years of age from purchasing cannabis.
If both measures are adopted, adults over the age of 21 will therefore be able to purchase limited quantities of cannabis in state-licensed stores. However, the two steps create a unique position.
In the case of approval of the legalization measure but not the constitutional age limit, anyone 18 years of age or older would be allowed to purchase cannabis.
Sales would be taxed at 20 percent, with most of the tax revenue split between funding for addiction programs, veterans’ services, and health care. The general state fund will collect 10.5% of these revenues, and municipalities that allow the sale of cannabis will also receive a portion. The state expects sales to generate $3.5 million in tax revenue by 2022, a figure that could rise to $38.5 million by 2025.
The regulatory body, which will be attached to the State Department of Revenue, will have to grant commercial licenses no later than October 1, 2021, only to local operators. The proposal also includes provisions allowing anyone who has been convicted of minor cannabis-related offenses to apply for a new conviction or even have their record expunged.
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”. Said Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “New Approach Montana’s signature campaign was one of the most innovative ever, and its success is a testament to the strong support among Montana voters for cannabis policy reform.
New Approach Montana, the campaign behind the initiative, began collecting signatures for their petition earlier this year. However, the COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible to collect signatures at home, and the group sued the state for the right to collect signatures electronically. The request failed, and the group had to suspend its efforts until the state began to reopen in May. The activists behind the initiative finally managed to collect enough signatures to qualify it for the next election.
In addition to Montana, six other states will vote to legalize at least one cannabis use this year.