Montana Marijuana Legalization Initiative Hit With Lawsuit

In a frantic attempt to stop Montana marijuana legalization from entering the Constitution, anti-marijuana advocates prepare to take matters to the state Supreme Court.

Montana anti-marijuana advocates are preparing a lawsuit against the I-190 initiative by campaign, New Approach Montana, to remove the measure off the election ballot.

Despite obstacles amid the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year, the initiative was successful, making its way onto the election ballot in August.

As it stands, there are two separate measures to amend the state Constitution:

  • I-190: To legalize and regulate the cultivation, production, sale, and distribution of marijuana for adult-use. The initiative will also have a 20% tax on non-medical marijuana, 10.5% of tax revenue will go into the general fund. Meanwhile the remainder will go into conservation, substance abuse rehabilitation, war veteran, and healthcare based programs.
  • CI-118: To amend the legal age for marijuana consumption from 18 to 21 years old.

Despite citizens taking advantage of early voting and mail-in ballots, anti-marijuana campaign, Wrong For Montana, persists with filing the lawsuit.

The appeal stipulates that the legalization initiative breaks Montana law by directing revenue and tax funds into distinct programs. Instead, all funds must be go into the general fund, according to Stephen Zabawa from Wrong For Montana.

". . .It is a flawed initiative. . .A group that hides information, tells lies and clearly doesn't understand how state government works is pushing an agenda with an ulterior motive; greed," Zabawa told KGVO.

Zabawa also questions what will happen if the I-190 measure is successful if CI-118 is not.

"Look at I 190. . .If that measure passes on its own, and without CI-118, then Montana would be the first state in the country, in fact, the only place in the world where potentially high school seniors can purchase legally purchased marijuana because it would be 18 and up who can get access to this drug, not 21 and up."Stephen Zabawa – KGVO Phone Interview

However, according to Marijuana Moment, the opposition says that the lawsuit is only an attempt "cause confusion."

With early voting already occuring, it begs the question of what will become of the initiative if the lawsuit is successful. Will the votes simply be made redundant? Or can the court rule that revenue must be go directly into the general fund?

If the lawsuit is a success, however, Montana will join Nebraska and become the second state that has lucked out in this year's election. Similarly, Nebraska's initiative beat the odds and made its way onto the state's election ballot only to be removed for violating the "single subject rule" in September.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Montana since 2004. Several amendments have been made since to the Constitution, the most recent being in 2016.

Zabawa is currently awaiting to hear back from the courts on whether the lawsuit will be viewed by the seven justices.

If, however, Montana marijuana legalization occurs, Montana will become the 12th U.S. to legalize adult-use. The plant will subsequently be available for purchase in 2022.

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Taylor Ridewood
Taylor Ridewood

Taylor is a Sydney-based writer with a background in psychology and professional writing. She has a keen interest in the benefits of medicinal cannabis and enjoys researching the multi-faceted effects of cannabis on the body and mind.

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