The state medical marijuana law will go to Montana voters next year after petitioners picked up more than the 26,000 signatures needed to place the measure on the ballot.
The initiative needed 24,337 valid voter signatures to make the ballot; it handed in 26,778 valid signatures. It needed to obtain the signatures of at least 5% of registered voters in at least 34 of the state's 100 legislative districts; it qualified in 49.
The Montana Cannabis Industry Association wants to return to the original medical marijuana law voters approved in 2004. Legislators behind the new crackdown claim the state's prior law was far too permissive.
The initiative campaign is in response to the Republican-controlled state legislature, which first passed a bill to completely repeal the state's voter-approved medical marijuana law, and then, after it was vetoed by Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D), passed another bill, Senate Bill 423, essentially killing the state's medical marijuana distribution system. That bill was challenged in court, and parts of it were enjoined, but other onerous portions of it remain in effect.
That will be the case until and unless Montanans vote for the initiative next November. Organizers could have attempted to repeal the law outright through the initiative process, but that would have required three times the number of signatures needed to get this measure on the ballot, and that was beyond the reach of the ill-funded, nearly all-volunteer effort.