News & Features

Ballot Initiative 190 Proposes Legal Recreational Marijuana

Proponents say 20% tax would generate millions of dollars in state revenue

A ballot initiative would legalize the possession and use of recreational marijuana for adults over the age of 21 while imposing a 20% tax on marijuana sales.

Individuals would be able to grow a maximum of four marijuana plants and four seedlings for personal use in an enclosed, locked area of their residence out of public sight.

The Montana Department of Revenue would be responsible for the regulation, cultivation, manufacturing, transportation and sale of marijuana in Montana.

The 20% tax on marijuana and marijuana-infused products would be allocated to the department’s general fund and special-revenue accounts for conservation, veterans and drug addiction treatment programs, local authorities enforcing the initiative and healthcare workers. Initiative sponsors say it will generate about $48 million annually by 2025.

Local authorities would regulate marijuana ordinances and resolutions, and licensed laboratories would be required to test products.

“Adult use is an interesting prospect as it could help generate tax revenue from people (over) 21,” said Ron Brost, owner of Stillwater Laboratories, a state certified medical marijuana laboratory.

I-190 also allows a person currently “serving a sentence for an act permitted by I-190 to apply for resentencing or an expungement of the conviction,” while also prohibiting the advertising of marijuana and related products.

In 2004, medical marijuana was approved by voters with 61.81% of votes and has since gone through a series of attempted repeals and amendments. The state legislature passed a bill that banned marijuana advertisements, prohibited marijuana dispensaries from having more than three registered patients and required state review of doctors who prescribed marijuana to more than 25 patients per year.

In 2016, Initiative 182 passed and repealed those requirements. It also allowed physicians to prescribe marijuana for patients diagnosed with chronic pain or post-traumatic stress disorder and repealed law enforcement’s power to conduct unannounced inspections of medical marijuana facilities.

“If (I-190) passes, it is essential that people are guaranteed a safe product and we are committed to ensuring that Montanans always get the safest products and medicine,” Brost said.

New Approach Montana supports the initiative, leading the campaign while arguing that the majority of Montanans support legalization and that it will create jobs, generate state revenue and redirect law enforcement’s attention to “real crime.”

Members of Wrong for Montana, a committee opposing the initiative, argue marijuana legalization will increase traffic accidents.

maggie@flatheadbeacon.com