Montana Supreme Court Rejects Lawsuit to Block Legalization Initiative

Montana’s Supreme Court has rejected a legal bid by Wrong for Montana — an anti-cannabis group — that attempted to invalidate the legalization voter initiative appearing on state ballots this year.

Full story after the jump.

The Montana Supreme Court has rejected a challenge by Wrong for Montana against the ballot initiative to legalize adult-use cannabis sales in the state, MTPR reports. The anti-legalization group argued that the question violates the state constitution because it appropriates funds which is not allowed by Montana initiatives under state law.

The legalization proposal – Initiative 190 – would establish a 20 percent tax on non-medical cannabis sales, directing the money to the state’s general fund and other programs.

J.D. “Pepper” Petersen, spokesperson for the pro-legalization group New Approach Montana, told the Missoulian that language in the initiative outlining where the taxes would be directed are a “suggestion” and that lawmakers will have the final say in how they are appropriated if the reforms are approved.

The court ruled that the lawsuit failed to show the necessary urgency to be heard by the state’s highest court – rather than on the merits of the argument – and suggested plaintiffs take the case to district court, the report says.

Steve Zabawa, director of SAFEMontana, one of the groups comprising Wrong for Montana, indicated the group filed the case in district court on Thursday, a day after the Supreme Court’s rejection.

Dave Lewis, policy advisor for New Approach Montana, described the lawsuit as an “old tactic… to try to confuse voters.”

The legalization push in the state includes the tax-and-regulate proposal along with a complimentary proposal – Constitutional Initiative 118 – which would amend the state constitution to set the minimum age for cannabis consumption at 21-years-old, according to the Missoulian.

According to the MTPR report, as of Wednesday, nearly 290,000 Montanans had already cast their general election ballots.

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