Montana voters approved two ballot initiatives to legalize cannabis for adult use by a 58 percent to 42 percent margin. The campaign included both a statutory measure to establish a legal marketplace and a constitutional amendment setting the legal age at 21.
This election marks the first time that states legalized cannabis for recreational use while simultaneously backing a Republican for president as President Donald Trump won in both Montana and South Dakota.
NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said the result “illustrates that support for adult-use marijuana legalization extends across geographic and demographic lines.”
“Marijuana legalization is not exclusively a ‘blue’ state issue, but an issue that is supported by a majority of all Americans – regardless of party politics. By approving these voter-initiated measures, Montana now joins the growing list of states that have recognized that it is time to end marijuana criminalization and move forward with a new approach.” – Altieri in a statement
The measure tasks the state Department of Revenue with implementing and regulating a commercial system for growing and selling cannabis, imposes a 20 percent tax on sales, and allows local governments to ban cannabis businesses, commonly referred to as municipal control. The measure also includes provisions allowing people convicted of past cannabis crimes to seek resentencing or expungement.
The Revenue Department must start accepting industry applications by January 1, 2022.
The reforms do not include social-use provisions and includes language allowing $50 fines for smoking cannabis in a public place, but it does not mention other methods of consumption.
Montana legalized medical cannabis in 2004.
The campaign was led by New Approach Montana which, according to a Ballotpedia analysis, received $7.2 million in cash and in-kind contributions. The campaign’s two highest contributors were New Approach PAC ($1.9 million) and the North Fund ($4.8 million). The opposition group, Wrong for Montana, reported $306,750 in contributions.
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