Tax and Regulate

New Approach Montana Submits 2020 Marijuana Legalization Ballot Initiatives for State Review

Secretary of State and Attorney General must review the proposed initiatives before signature collecting can begin

New Approach Montana, a statewide political campaign working to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana, today submitted two complementary 2020 ballot initiatives to the state government for review. The first is a statutory initiative that would legalize marijuana in Montana for adults aged 21 and over and establish a regulatory framework for cultivation and sales. The second is a constitutional amendment that would allow the legal minimum age for marijuana consumption to be 21.

“Montanans support legalizing marijuana and setting the minimum age at 21,” said Pepper Petersen, spokesperson for New Approach Montana. “Our initiatives will give voters the opportunity to approve those laws at the ballot box on Election Day. It’s time for Montana to stop wasting law enforcement resources that could be spent fighting more serious crime. We can shift marijuana out of the illicit market and into licensed, regulated, and tax-paying businesses. At the same time, we can create jobs and generate significant new revenue for the state.”

The initiatives were hand-delivered to the Secretary of State and the Legislative Services Division today, starting a review process that will also involve the Attorney General and the Governor’s budget director.

New Approach Montana is sponsoring both initiatives, which were were drafted with the assistance of Montana voters, stakeholders, and policy experts.

“These initiatives are the result of a collaborative and diligent drafting process,” said Petersen. “We held seven community listening sessions across the state and received input from hundreds of Montana voters. We’ve spoken with community, church, and tribal leaders. Montana lawyers with experience in ballot initiative drafting and litigation have carefully vetted the details. We’ve received input from Montanans with expertise on our state’s existing medical marijuana program, civil rights, and fiscal policy. We have covered every base.”

The statutory initiative establishes a legalization policy that builds upon Montana’s existing medical marijuana framework.

“It was important to us that Montana entrepreneurs and businesses would be in a strong position to compete in the legalization market, and our initiative ensures that will be the case,” said Petersen. “We have every confidence that this uniquely Montanan approach to marijuana legalization, regulation, and taxation will gain widespread support at the ballot box in November.”

After the Attorney General has approved the final petitions, New Approach Montana must gather 25,468 signatures to qualify the statutory initiative for the 2020 ballot and 50,936 signatures to qualify the constitutional initiative.

New Approach Montana determined that it was necessary to amend the state constitution if Montana was going to follow the example of every other legal state by restricting marijuana to those 21 years and older.

“There is strong precedent for changing the Montana constitution to restrict marijuana to those 21 years and older,” said Petersen. “As a state, we amended the constitution in 1986 to allow the legislature to restrict alcohol sales to those 21 and over. Our 2020 constitutional amendment adds just two words to existing constitutional language that addresses alcohol, so that marijuana can be age-restricted in the same manner.”

The statutory initiative allows possession of up to an ounce by adults aged 21 and older, establishes the Montana Department of Revenue as the regulatory agency, gives Montana medical marijuana providers first entry into the expanded marijuana market, and reduces the tax on medical marijuana from two percent to one percent.

The initiative sets a 20% sales tax on marijuana (this would not apply to medical marijuana) and allocates the tax revenue to land, water, and wildlife conservation programs, veteran services, substance abuse treatment, long-term health care, local governments where marijuana is sold, and general revenue for the state.

“Our campaign’s initial analysis found that a 20% marijuana sales tax would generate over $37 million per year in new revenue by 2025,” Peterson said.

More information, including the full texts of the initiatives, can be found at: www.newapproachmt.org.

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Medical Marijuana

Mississippi’s medical marijuana initiative officially qualifies for the ballot!

The wait is over. After submitting well over the required number of voter signatures in September last year, Mississippians for Compassionate Care has received the good news that their initiative to legalize medical marijuana will appear on the November ballot!

Polling indicates that 77 percent of Mississippians support allowing medical marijuana. The state currently has a CBD program, but access is severely restricted.

Although a supermajority of residents are on the side of reform, some politicians, such as Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, are opposed. Those against the measure will likely do what prohibitionists often do: misinform and use fear tactics to dissuade voters.

If you live in the state, please get involved. You can support the campaign and learn more about Mississippians for Compassionate Care by visiting their website. Passage of a medical marijuana law in one of the most conservative states in the country would be a major victory for patients and families living there as well as for our movement.

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Tax and Regulate

North Dakota could see legalization on the ballot again in 2020

Last week, Legalize ND submitted petition language to put an initiative to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana before the voters next November. Once the measure is approved for circulation by the secretary of state, activists must gather 13,452 voter signatures before July 6, 2020 to qualify for the ballot.

In 2018, North Dakotans rejected a proposal to legalize marijuana for adults 59% to 41%. This time around, however, Legalize ND worked closely with the North Dakota Legislative Council and argues the proposal is better written and addresses previous concerns. The 2020 measure would create a system to license marijuana businesses, establish a 10% tax on marijuana sales, and prohibit home cultivation. The initiative would also allow individuals to remove low-level marijuana convictions from their criminal records.

2020 is shaping up to be another big year for marijuana policy reform. Don’t sit on the sidelines. Check out the campaign’s website to get involved and support the effort to end marijuana prohibition in North Dakota!

Thank you.

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General

North Dakota Senate approves marijuana decriminalization measure​

Contact your state legislators and ask them to support decriminalizing marijuana possession.

Great news! In a 37-10 vote, senators in North Dakota’s legislature passed legislation last Thursday to replace criminal penalties for possession of up to half an ounce of marijuana with a civil fine of $250. The proposal, introduced by Fargo Republican Sen. Kristin Roers, gained traction as the local marijuana policy reform organization, Legalize ND, announced plans to pursue a 2020 ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for adult use.

Please take a minute to send a message to your state legislators and urge them to pass marijuana decriminalization this year!

Members of the North Dakota House narrowly defeated a similar decriminalization proposal earlier this year, but lawmakers are expected to reach an agreement on the details of this legislation and ultimately send it to Gov. Doug Burgum, who has expressed support for decriminalization in the past.

The bill would also establish a process for the state to study the possibility of legalizing marijuana for adult use. Advocates with Legalize ND say that passage of this law will not deter them from efforts to put a legalization measure on the ballot in 2020.

It’s encouraging to see state lawmakers acknowledging the harms of marijuana prohibition and taking steps to end arrests for low-level possession offenses. There is more work to be done, but thanks to the tireless work of local advocates, we are finally seeing significant progress in the North Dakota Legislature. 

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Medical Marijuana

Nebraska: Help us fight back against Gov. Ricketts and his anti-medical marijuana allies

Support the 2020 ballot campaign and take action by contacting your state senator!

Last week in an email to Nebraskan Republicans, Gov. Pete Ricketts announced that he is "partnering with Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) Nebraska to ensure all Nebraskans understand the risks of marijuana." As one would expect, the message was full of untrue statements, including the claim that marijuana causes IQ loss, which has been thoroughly debunked by recent scientific studies.

Gov. Ricketts and his allies have demonstrated a total lack of compassion for the thousands of patients and families suffering in Nebraska. Instead of engaging in dialogue about how to create a functional medical marijuana program, they are digging in their heels and spreading falsehoods.

To take on Gov. Ricketts and his anti-marijuana lobbyist friends, we have a two-pronged strategy. But we need you in this fight with us.

First, we're working to build support behind the medical marijuana bill in the state legislature. Take a minute right now to contact your state senators and urge them to support Sen. Wishart's proposal.

And to create further pressure, we're supporting Nebraskans for Sensible Marijuana Laws, which recently submitted a 2020 constitutional ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana. Please make a donation to ensure the campaign has the resources to put the proposal on the ballot.

Gov. Ricketts and his prohibitionist allies are determined to keep medical marijuana illegal. But with your help, we can prevail.

Thank you.

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