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Marijuana legalization supporters and opponents respond to draft legislation

Marijuana
Posted at 12:01 AM, Mar 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-22 03:17:26-04

The group that campaigned this past election cycle for Initiative 190, legalizing recreational marijuana in Montana, says the newly written draft legislation is a good start.

The Montana Cannabis Guild, formerly New Approach Montana, likes that the bill states medical marijuana businesses will have 18 months before others enter the market.

But the group would like to allow medical marijuana businesses to grow up to four plants.

The law is set to take effect in January of 2022.

Safe Montana, which opposes legalizing marijuana, wants the implementation delayed until 2023.

It would also like to limit the potency levels allowed.

The initiative lists several groups that could receive state money generated from marijuana sales, but both agree that decision is ultimately up to the legislature.

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"In the Montana Constitution, it's really simple," said Steve Zabawa, Safe Montana founder. "It says a ballot initiative like this, I-190, cannot allocate or appropriate the revenue. They did that. Governor Gianforte's office is very clear that (money is) going to go to drug treatment."

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"Very clearly in the (Montana) Constitution, only the legislature can appropriate money," said Dave Lewis, Montana Cannabis Guild policy adviser. "Now, the fact that you're mentioned in the initiative doesn't guarantee you the money. You're going to have to go through and get the votes to get it appropriated."

Lewis expects the bill to be introduced in the legislature this week.