When the coronavirus pandemic struck, there were tens of marijuana legalization initiatives in states across the country. However, social distancing and self-isolation orders made signature collection virtually impossible and as a result, states such as New York and Idaho have had to postpone their legalization efforts until next year and beyond. Montana, on the other hand, is on track to putting marijuana reform on the ballot this November. On Friday, marijuana activists in the state that based on both county-level signature validation as well as their own verification process, said they were surer they had collected enough signatures to qualify two cannabis reform measures for the November ballot.
Although the coronavirus pandemic initially impeded New Approach Marijuana’s signature collection efforts, the group relaunched their efforts in May with coronavirus related safety measures in place to keep both the signature collectors and the public safe. The group’s revised strategy paid off, and they managed to collect enough valid signatures for a statutory cannabis legalization measure and a separate constitutional amendment that would make a technical change stipulating that only those 21 and older could participate in the market.
The statutory measure, which would establish a regulated cannabis market for adult use in the state, required about 25,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot. New Approach Montana says that 33,000 signatures have been collected and verified. The separate constitutional amendment stipulating that only those 21 and over could participate in the cannabis market required about 51,000 valid signatures and the group collected 52,860 signatures.
According to Pepper Petersen, spokesperson for New Approach Montana, the campaign is “really excited” to have seen such broad support for drug reform in the state. “Every single legislative district submitted signatures to this in Montana. We think that shows a huge level of support out here, and we’re excited going forward. We’re confident that people are going to support this at the ballot as much as they did in the signature-gathering process.”
He says that it was both the commitment of volunteers and the widespread interest in the policy change among voters that led to the campaign’s success. “I think that the success, is of course, our volunteers and our staff were really hard workers and our supporters contributed to that. But it was just the excitement of the Montanans. Montanans want this change and they think it’s well past time for it.”
The Secretary of State has until August 20 to verify to the governor whether the two initiatives will make the ballot. Industry watchers say sector players like Sugarmade, Inc. (OTCQB: SGMD) will be hoping that Montanans finally get to decide whether cannabis should be legal or not during the November polls.
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