Despite the coronavirus, Montana has been able to submit enough signatures to potentially legalize cannabis. The state turned in more than 130,000 signatures on two separate measures. This goal was uncertain at one point, due to the struggle to collect signatures during a pandemic.
Getting Ready for November
As November approaches, activists were scrambling to gain as many signatures as possible for these two measures. The first measure, a statutory change, would create a regulated cannabis market for adult-use in the state. This measure required 25,000 signatures. The second measure would establish the minimum age requirement to be 21 to participate in this cannabis market. This measure required 51,000 signatures. If the state successfully submits enough signatures, the measures will end up on the November ballot.
Fortunately, both measures were submitted with more than enough signatures. The first one, to create the cannabis market, collected double the required amount with 52,000 signatures. The other measure was able to collect 80,000 signatures, 29,000 more than required. Although it seemed unlikely, activists were able to achieve their goal.
In the weeks leading up to this deadline, activists used every possible way to gain signatures for the two measures. Mailings, online ads, phone calls, and texting were just a few of the ways activists spread the word. For Montana, a pandemic was just one of the many deterrents within the state.
“We’ve overcome a global pandemic, wildfires, floods, hail, snow, and hurricane-force winds,” said Pepper Petersen, a spokesperson for New Approach Montana. “Our campaign implemented strict health protocols and worked around the clock so that Montana voters could sign our petitions safely and qualify these popular initiatives for the November ballot. We collected signatures from every corner of the state and all 100 state house districts.”
Their efforts have clearly paid off. Both measures successfully gained enough attention to land on the November ballot. Now, there are a few possible outcomes, depending on what voters decide on.
First, is if both measures pass. In this case, cannabis will effectively be legal in Montana. Anyone over the age of 21 will be able to purchase cannabis from a licensed dispensary.
“We can generate tens of millions of dollars of new tax revenue, create thousands of new jobs, and provide a new source of commercial activity for Montana’s existing small businesses,” said Peterson.
The next scenario is if neither measures pass. This outcome is pretty obvious: cannabis remains illegal. Activists and lawmakers will have to keep pushing for legalization.
Finally, there’s the trickest scenario: if the first measure is passed, and the second one doesn’t. In that situation, the legal age will be set at 18. No other state in the country has such a low age requirement, with all others being 21. On the contrary, the second measure won’t pass if the first doesn’t.
Nonetheless, this achievement proves how close Montana is to legalizing cannabis. Activists were able to gain more than enough signatures for both measures, despite having to follow pandemic regulations. Now, Montanans will have to vote this law into existence if they want to enjoy the plethora of benefits the legalization comes with.