Pair of measures would legalize marijuana in Montana

Marijuana is back on the ballot — the third time in the last five election cycles — but this year Montanans will decide for the first time whether to follow other states like Colorado and Washington in legalizing use for all adults.

The issue comes in the form of complementary ballot initiatives I-190 and CI-118. I-190 creates the rules for a recreational marijuana system in Montana, including a 20% tax. It also allows each county the option to prohibit dispensaries in their county.

CI-118 would amend the Montana Constitution to allow the state to set the minimum buying age to 21. If both pass, Montana would join 10 other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing recreational marijuana.

New Approach Montana, a group founded in January 2019 by Montana political veterans Ted Dick and Pepper Petersen, is running the pro-legalization effort. After seeing a decline of tax revenue from previous economic drivers like energy production and mining, the two men asked the Montana’s Office of Budget and Program Planning to estimate the benefits of legalized marijuana for the economy. The office estimated that retail taxes on recreational marijuana could generate upwards of $38.5 million a year by 2025.

“This is a substantial amount of funding,” Petersen said, adding the next steps were clear. “We wrote our own law — we have a uniquely Montana approach.” [Read more at Choteau Acantha]

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