Montana is one step closer to allowing recreational marijuana after the State Senate approved a bill that would legalize adult-use cannabis. The legislation first began its journey as MT Initiative 1-190, and it was approved by voters in the 2020 ballot alongside MT Initiative 118, which set the legal age for marijuana consumption at 21. Initiative 190 would create a legal framework for the production and sale of marijuana products to adults in the state.
Now that the bill passed its third reading in the State Senate, it will go through one more Senate reading before heading back to the House to approve a series of amendments the Senate has made. If the recreational cannabis legislation makes it through the House with the Senate amendments, it will then be sent to Governor Greg Gianforte for his signature.
When the initiative was first approved by voters, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said that Montanans’ support for recreational cannabis showed that cannabis reform extended beyond geographic and demographic lines. It is an issue that has the support of most Americans regardless of their political affiliations, he said, and voters had now decided that it was time to end criminalizing marijuana criminalization.
The lawmakers behind the Senate version of the bill are of the same opinion, putting aside their personal beliefs to work on a bill state residents had clearly said they wanted. Senator Jason Ellsworth said the group wanted to create the best cannabis bill for the state, and they dedicated a lot of time and effort towards fulfilling this responsibility. Democratic Senator Tom Jacobson believes the same, saying that legislators are obligated to represent their constituents, and since their constituents voted to legalize recreational cannabis, group members set aside their ideologies and tried to find a workable solution.
The language in the comprehensive Senate bill isn’t exactly similar to Initiative 190. Thanks to an amendment that was introduced and approved by the Senate Select Committee on Marijuana, millions of cannabis tax dollars will be used to help fund several public programs, including environmental groups and veterans’ care funds. The legislation will also provide funding for health care, substance misuse treatment and local governments with the rest of the tax going to the state’s general fund.
According to Senator Shane Moriegeau, lawmakers have crafted a bill that he was more than proud to vote for. The recreational cannabis legislation passed the second Senate reading with a 25–15 vote before being approved in the third reading.
Once a mechanism to regulate the recreational marijuana market is finalized, Montana is likely to see lots of companies joining the sector and bringing many of the benefits that jurisdictions where established companies such Hero Technologies Inc. (OTC: HENC) operate from.
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