Opponents Plan to File Lawsuit Over Montana’s Cannabis Legalization Initiative
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Opponents Plan to File Lawsuit Over Montana’s Cannabis Legalization Initiative

Wrong for Montana alleges that the financial allocations proposed in the measure, which passed 57% to 43%, contradict the state’s constitution.

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November 5, 2020

Montana voters approved a plan to legalize, regulate and tax adult-use cannabis Nov. 3, but opponents now plan to file a lawsuit over the initiative, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

Wrong for Montana alleges that the financial allocations proposed in the measure, which passed 57% to 43%, contradict the state’s constitution, the news outlet reported.

I-190 outlines some initial provisions for an adult-use cannabis program in the state, including a proposal that earmarks some of the revenue generated from a 20% tax on cannabis for conservation, substance abuse treatment and veterans’ issues, which Wrong for Montana spokesperson Steve Zabawa told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle is “not transparent.”

“Even though this thing got voted in last night doesn’t mean it’s going to be law,” Zabawa said. “There’s a lot more that has to be done, and I think the Montana Supreme Court or the [Helena] District Court will throw this thing out.”

Zabawa told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that Wrong for Montana will appeal to the Montana Supreme Court if the Helena District Court upholds the initiative.

Dave Lewis, a former legislator and a policy advisor to New Approach Montana, the campaign behind the initiative, told the news outlet that the proposed tax allocations were meant to be approved by the state legislature.

“The legislature is the only body of the [government] that can appropriate money,” he said. “We’re not challenging that.”

Lewis added that I-190 includes a severability clause that would protect the rest of the initiative if the proposed tax allocations are ultimately ruled unconstitutional, and that in that case, the money would simply go to Montana’s general fund.