When the coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, China in late 2019, no one could have imagined the impact it would have. Four months later, thousands of lives have been lost and the global economy has almost been brought to a standstill. Due to social distancing and self-isolation directives, drug legalization campaigns that required signatures were also put on hold.
Now, activists in Montana are announcing that they will proceed with a signature-gathering drive for a marijuana legalization initiative, and they have laid out strategies that will keep circulators and the general public safe.
New Approach Montana is behind the two proposed ballot measures. One is a statutory initiative that would establish a regulated cannabis market for adult use and a constitutional amendment stipulating that only those 21 and older can participate in the market.
The campaign had initially filed a lawsuit asking the court to allow them to collect signatures digitally, but the case was dismissed. However, with the state gradually reopening, New Approach Montana has stated that it is moving forward with signature collection under strict guidelines.
“As our state reopens for business, we must also reopen for democracy. Our signature drive will allow Montana voters to exercise their constitutional right to a ballot initiative in a safe and responsible way,” says New Approach Montana’s Political Director Pepper Petersen.
Circulators will be required to wear disposable gloves and use single-use wrapped pens, discarding them after each signature. They will also wear masks all the time and will be provided with hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. They will maintain a minimum of six feet from the public, and tables will also be set up to allow the public to sign while maintaining proper distance.
The circulators will carry their supplies in disposable, clear, plastic bags. According to James Miles, a former director of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, the campaign’s plan satisfies government mandates.
“I am encouraged to see the concentrated effort that New Approach Montana is putting forth to protect the health of Montanans as it moves forward with its signature gathering,” he says.
The campaign will have to collect about 25,000 signatures from registered voters for the statutory legalization measure and 51,000 valid signatures for the constitutional proposal concerning age requirements.
“Our team has taken a very conservative and cautious approach, and this is going to be the most public health-focused signature drive ever conducted in Montana,” says Petersen. “Our circulators will be trained to follow specific protocols so that we can limit direct contact with signers to the greatest degree possible.”
This resumption of signature gathering is likely to seen as good news by the marijuana industry, including players like Round Meadow Holdings Corp. and The Supreme Cannabis Company Inc. (TSX: FIRE) (OTCQX: SPRWF), who would appreciate some good industry news in this pandemic that has spread a lot of gloom.
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