Montana has joined the list of states where voters will see adult use cannabis legalization on their ballots this November.
The Montana Secretary of State has certified two initiatives for which the New Approach Montana campaign submitted, combined, more than 130,000 signatures in June. The first, I-190, would legalize cannabis for adult use, while the second, CI-118 would amend the state constitution to “allow the legislature or the people by initiative to establish the legal age for purchasing, consuming, or possessing marijuana,” which I-190 sets at 21.
If voters approve these initiatives, adults age 21 and older will be able to buy and possess up to an ounce of cannabis and to grow four mature plants (and four seedlings) at home. Further, individuals who are “currently serving a sentence” for activities permitted by I-190 will be able to “apply for resentencing or an expungement of the conviction.”
The state Department of Revenue would “license and regulate the cultivation, transportation, and sale of marijuana and marijuana-infused products and to inspect premises where marijuana is cultivated and sold.” Licenses would be issued starting in January 2022, and, for the first 12 months, the Department will only accept applications from existing medical cannabis businesses in the state.
A cannabis retail tax would be set at 20%, and 10.5% of that tax revenue would go toward the general fund, while the rest will be divided among “conservation programs, substance abuse treatment, veterans’ services, healthcare costs, and localities where marijuana is sold.”
According to a fiscal note on I-190, sales could reach near $200 million by 2025, and taxes and fees are by then expected to bring in around $48 million for the state.
Montana joins several states that will have medical and/or adult use cannabis on their November ballots: Arizona (adult use); Mississippi (medical use); New Jersey (adult use); and South Dakota (medical and adult use). Nebraska (medical use) is the only state still awaiting its signature count.
Several state legalization efforts, both ballot and bill, did not survive coronavirus-related setbacks. (Read Cannabis Wire’s roundup of those efforts here.) Nebraska’s campaign had its own setbacks, but then, when the state began to reopen in May, announced a renewed effort to gather signatures while considering social distancing requirements.