Groups working to get recreational marijuana on November ballot

At least two groups are working to legalize recreational marijuana in Montana. New Approach Montana and MontanaCan both have ballot initiatives going through legislative review.

New Approach Montana has two ballot initiatives. The first is a constitutional initiative to make 21 the legal age for marijuana use. To get it on the November ballot will require about 50,000 signatures by June 19. The second ballot initiative is a statutory initiative that would legalize recreational marijuana use and set up taxes on it at 20%. This initiative would require about 25,000 signatures, also by June 19, to get on the November ballot.

MontanaCan is proposing one statutory initiative that would have the legal age for marijuana use set at 18 and the tax at 5%. This initiative would require about 25,000 signatures by June 19.

MontanaCan Executive Director Erica Siate said, "Montana should legalize marijuana because, first and foremost, there are people still in prison, and on long probations, and going through cases for marijuana charges. And, we shouldn't be clogging up prisons with people who use or have even sold a harmless plant. Cannabis in its natural state is an incredibly helpful and beneficial plant."

However, not everyone agrees. Regional Agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency Stacy Zinn said, "We're seeing THC levels as high as 33% in a single joint. This should give pause. This should cause some concern with those individuals who don't really know much about marijuana. Back in my day, THC levels were approximately 2-3%. People would smoke a joint; they would pass it around. So, basically, you're getting about 1.5 THC into your body. Now, you can get as high as 33%. We don't know right now what it's doing to your brain receptors."

More information from the DEA can be found here

Medical marijuana has been legal in Montana since 2004. However, the Medical Marijuana Act has gone through extensive changes since it was first passed.

Neither group proposing ballot initiatives is able to start collecting signatures yet. All of their ballot initiatives are going through legislative review (see ballot issues #11 and #12 for New Approach Montana and ballot initiatives #5 and #13 for MontanaCan). They are hoping to start collecting signatures in mid-spring. 

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