Montana gets a big boost in its campaign to legalize cannabis after local environmental groups endorse the legalization. The Montana organizations claim that legalizing cannabis would cause an influx in revenue for environmental conservation programs.
Public Lands Coalition
The endorsement boils down to a group of four organizations known as the Public Lands Coalition (PLC) organized by New Approach Montana. The group consists of:
- The Montana Conservation Voters
- The Wild Montana Action Fund
- The Trust for Public Land
- The Montana Wildlife Federation.
“All Montanans share the values of open space, as Montanans, we collectively own and steward some of the most special places on earth,” said Pepper Petersen, political director for New Approach Montana.
Montana, known for its public lands and parks, attracts tourists from across the country. Half of the public revenue from marijuana sales would be earmarked to maintain and create trails, protect land for wildlife, and fund our state parks.
“In order to continue to offer Montanans and our millions of guests an experience worth coming back for, we need to invest in our public lands,” PLC wrote.
Details of Funding
According to the coalition’s website, the legalization would provide more than $18 million per year that would benefit Montana’s public lands; both maintaining the current access as well as opening up new opportunities for recreation.
“These additional funds would help to address the state’s backlog of repairs to campgrounds, trails, wildlife habitat, opening access, and increasing maintenance on our public lands,” PLC said.
Additionally, the campaign argues that legalizing cannabis federally would help create access to additional federal funding.
“The Land and Water Conservation fund is the largest piece of federal funding for our public lands. Now that the LWCF is fully and permanently funded, there are $900 million federal dollars per year that can be leveraged with matching state resources,” says the coalition website. “Tax revenue from I-190 could allow Montana to access more of this funding through matched federal grants. Montana should take every opportunity to use this money, and I-190 represents a golden opportunity to do so.”
There will be two separate marijuana measures on the state’s November ballot. Earlier this year cannabis advocates submitted enough signatures on both measures for it to land on the November ballot.
First, it would create a system for access to legal cannabis. In other words, it would create a market for adults-use. Next, the measure would ensure only adults 21 and over can partake in this market.
The Montana Department of Revenue would regulate the legal industry. The department could issue business licenses as soon as January 1, 2022. Existing medical cannabis businesses would be first in line to enter the adult-use market.
This is all a great step for Montana, however, it still doesn’t guarantee cannabis will be legalized. In fact, the only way to actually legalize cannabis in Montana is by going out and voting in favor of it in November. However, this endorsement does give a lot of power to local advocates.