Cannabis Legalization for Adults Act officially signed in Montana, HB 701
Governor Greg Gianforte signed the Montana Adult Cannabis Bill Tuesday, which aims to introduce a newly established marijuana recreational program in the state, months after voters in the Big Sky country approved a measure to legalize the pot.
Gianforte, a Republican in his first term as governor of Montana, added his name to House Bill 701, which paves the way for the state to be the last to implement a program to monitor legal adult pot sales.
The daily Montanan reports that the bill “implements and regulates the marijuana recreational program that voters approved in an election campaign last year, and funds a drug abuse prevention program that the new governor has been promoting since his early days in office has started “sales for customers 21 years and older are scheduled to begin next January.
According to the daily Montanan, “Half of the counties of Montana that voted for I-190, the adult legalization of cannabis, will have free time by default, while voters in the other half of the counties will have to do so a positive measure to push recreational marijuana to its limits if desired. ”
Additional provisions in the bill, according to Daily Montanan, provide for a 20 percent tax rate on recreational pot sales (compared to five percent on medical marijuana sales) while “operating and regulating the Department of State’s marijuana program Public Health and Human Services to the Treasury Department. “
In particular, Gianforte pointed out the proceeds from the adult cannabis program in Montana, which is being used for a treatment program called the HEART Fund.
“From the beginning it was clear to me that we had to use more resources to fight the drug epidemic that is devastating our communities,” said Gianforte in a statement quoted by the daily Montanan. “The HEART Fund funds a comprehensive continuum of drug abuse prevention and treatment programs for communities and provides new support to Montanans who want to get clean, sober and healthy.”
The newly signed Montana Adult Cannabis Act
HB 701 left the state parliament in April and sent the cannabis legislation for adults in Montana directly to Gianforte’s desk.
Montana I-190, the legalization initiative for last November’s vote, went smoothly. 56 percent of Montana voters approved the proposal.
Gianforte said in his statement that he and the state legislature “have focused on carrying out the will of Montana voters in a safe, responsible, and appropriately regulated manner.” It’s a far cry from Montana’s southeastern neighbor, South Dakota, where voters also passed a legalization measure in November.
In contrast to the experience in Montana, however, the legalization proposal from South Dakota encountered opposition from the government almost immediately after the election. South Dakota Highway Patrol Superintendent Colonel Rick Miller and Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom filed a lawsuit to block the change. In February, a judge from the South Dakota District Court ruled the amendment was against the state’s constitution. The case is currently under review by the South Dakota Supreme Court.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, a Republican, also firmly opposed the legalization efforts.
In a statement on Wednesday, NORML deputy director Paul Armentano highlighted the Republican opposition lawyers have faced in South Dakota, Mississippi and Montana.
“This is another recent example of Republican lawmakers cracking down on the majority of voters who support reforming our failed marijuana laws,” Armentano said. “In Mississippi, we saw a Republican-led effort nullifying the vote to legalize access to medicinal cannabis, and in South Dakota, the Republican governor is trying to overturn voters’ desire to legalize and regulate adult use of the plant . Here we have lawmakers adjusting the law in ways that are inconsistent with what the majority of voters opted for. Regardless of whether you support or oppose the legalization of cannabis, this trend should be thought deeply. “