A Montana resident is working to get an initiative on the 2016 ballot that would alter the state’s current provisions regarding recreational marijuana.
Anthony Varriano, a writer with the Glendive Ranger-Review, submitted language recently that would amend the state’s constitution to allow for the regulation and taxation of recreational marijuana within state borders. It would allow consumers over 21 to possess and purchase recreational cannabis in limited quantities, and an additional stipulation would mandate that the first $40 million raised in product taxes would be put toward Montana public schools.
Varriano, 29, said his ballot measure is based largely on a similar recreational marijuana law passed by Colorado voters in 2012. Because the proposed initiative (provided it first passes a required legal review) would change the Montana Constitution, almost 50,000 resident signatures are required in order to land the initiative on the ballot next year.
“I’ve got the hard part ahead of me. But the reaction has gotten me really excited; I think if we got it on the ballot it would pass.”
If so, Montana would join four other states that have already legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. Currently, Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon allow retail sales of the product within state lines. While Washington, D.C., now allows residents to possess cannabis in small amounts and cultivate at home, retail sales are not permitted.
Varriano’s initiative joins two other marijuana-related measures already submitted to the Montana Secretary of State. One involves removing certain regulations which restrict the medical marijuana industry and cites the state’s vote to legalize medical marijuana back in 2004. The other, submitted by Billings-based car dealership owner Steve Zabawa, would repeal Montana’s medical marijuana law and ban cannabis use in the state completely.
Zabawa previously attempted to land the measure on the 2014 ballot, but was unable to do so due to an inability to collect the necessary number of signatures within the time allotted.