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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Montana Lawmakers Consider Studying Recreational Marijuana Legalization

Cannabis in jars. Stock photo.
Cannabis in jars. Stock photo.

Montanans could vote in 2020 to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. There’s no official ballot measure proposed, yet. But lawmakers are expecting one, and are now considering studying the possible impacts ahead of time.

Missoula Democratic Sen. Diane Sands says she fully expects the 2020 ballot to include a citizen initiative to legalize recreational marijuana.

“This is a topic that I think is coming down the track at us and I think we need to not wait and see. We just need to deal with it," she says.

Ten states and Washington D.C. allow recreational use of marijuana by adults. Under federal law, marijuana is listed as a Schedule 1 illegal substance.

Sands is carrying Senate Joint Resolution 11. It asks for the lawmakers during the coming interim to study legalization, regulation, taxation and public health and safety aspects of recreational marijuana in Montana.

The Montana Cannabis Industry Association is backing the bill.

The Senate Judiciary Committee did not immediately vote on the measure following its first hearing, Friday.

Montana voters first approved medical use of marijuana in 2004. They did so again in 2016, following a law passed by the state Legislature aiming to restrict access and the availability of the drug.

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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