Montana voters have approved two complementary ballot initiatives that legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adults 21 and over. Montana joins 14 other states that have enacted marijuana legalization laws.
“By legalizing marijuana, Montanans have adopted a policy that is good for public health, good for public safety, and good for public finances,” said Ted Dick, New Approach Montana campaign manager and co-founder. “The initiatives will free up law enforcement to focus on serious crime, as Montana ends the practice of arresting otherwise law-abiding adults for personal use of marijuana. At the same time, 118 and 190 will expand access to medical marijuana for many patients, including veterans, and provide a new funding source for important state programs.”
Initiative 190, which establishes state laws to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana, was approved by an initial reported margin of 57%-43%. Constitutional Initiative 118, which amends the state constitution to allow state law to set a minimum legal age of 21 for marijuana, was approved by a margin of 58%-42%.
“This is the culmination of a two-year campaign and belongs to the people of Montana,” said New Approach co-founder and political director Pepper Petersen. “During that time, we heard from thousands of Montanans who were demanding commonsense marijuana policy for our state. Now, thanks to their effort and their votes, we have that.”
According to a report published in September by the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research, the initiatives will generate an estimated $236 million in new tax revenue over the first six years.
“Montana is facing serious fiscal challenges in the years ahead, and marijuana revenue can help ease the pain,” said Dave Lewis, policy advisor to New Approach Montana, former budget director for three Montana governors, and former Republican state senator. “In addition, there will be new jobs created both directly and indirectly by marijuana legalization. These initiatives have significant fiscal and economic benefits for Montana.”
Initiative 190 allocates funds to revenue accounts in support of public lands programs, veterans services, community and home healthcare services, substance abuse treatment and prevention programs, and local governments.
“Today is a victory for the public lands and conservation communities in Montana,” said the Public Lands Coalition for 190 and 118, a group of leading conservation groups that backed both of the initiatives. “These additional funds will help address the state’s backlog of repairs to campgrounds, trails, and wildlife habitats and help open access to our public lands. This is a win-win for the conservation community and all Montanans.”
The initiatives were supported by a range of organizations including the SEIU.
“We are thrilled with the passage of CI-118 and I-190. These two initiatives will not only enable the funding of much needed long-term healthcare for Montanans, but also reform broken policies that target low-income people and communities of color,” said Jacquie Helt, Montana State Director for SEIU 775.
Starting January 1, 2021, Montanans aged 21 and over will be permitted to possess up to one ounce of marijuana with no more than eight grams in concentrated form. Montana adults will also be permitted to grow up to four plants and four seedlings at home, provided there is no more than eight of each at any single residence. Legal sales are expected to begin in February 2022.