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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Ballot Initiative Would Legalize Recreational Marijuana In Montana

State lawmakers got an update on September 14 on Montana’s new medical marijuana regulation program.
A proposed ballot measure woul legalize recreational marijuana in Montana.

A part-time sports reporter and medical marijuana patient from Glendive says legalizing pot for recreational use would be an economic boon for Montana.

Anthony Varriono has submitted a proposed ballot measure with the Secretary of State's office that would allow adults age 21 and older to possess limited amounts of pot.

"I don't know why we're waiting so long to take advantage of what would be the fastest growing industry in this nation."

The measure would allow the state of Montana to regulate and tax marijuana. At least 15 percent of that revenue would be allocated to public schools and educational needs, but Varriano says the legislature could adjust that amount at a later date.

Getting an initiative on next year's ballot to amend Montana's constitution is no small feat. It would require nearly 50,000 valid signatures. Varriano says he's ready for the challenge.

"The response I've gotten has been overwhelming," says Varriano. "I didn't really expect people to jump on board so enthusiastically. Wow, I've just been blown away by how much help I've got across the state, and out of state. Half of our donations are from out-of-staters, so that's just wild."

Varriano says he hopes to bicycle across the state to collect the needed signatures. He’s set up a GoFundMe account to pay for the trip.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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