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Marijuana Legalization Initiative Filed in Montana

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #761)

They're back. Although a late effort to get on the ballot this year fell short, Montana marijuana activists are determined to get on the ballot in 2014, and just 10 days after the election, they submitted the first 2014 ballot question received by the secretary of state's office.

The constitutional initiative is proposed by East Helena medical marijuana advocate Barb Trego and lists as contact person Chris Lindsay, former partner in Montana Cannabis and now a convicted federal marijuana offender for his efforts.

The language of the 2014 initiative is not yet on file with the secretary of state's office, but it is said to mirror this year's failed CI-110, which would have amended the state constitution so that "adults have the right to responsibly purchase, consume, produce, and possess marijuana, subject to reasonable limitations, regulations, and taxation.  Except for actions that endanger minors, children, or public safety, no criminal offense or penalty of this state shall apply to such activities."

To qualify for the ballot, initiative organizers must obtain the signatures of 10% of qualified voters, as well as 10% of qualified voters in each of the state's 40 legislative House districts. It's not clear yet what the exact numbers are -- they are based on this month's election results -- but this year, organizers needed about 45,000 signatures and came up with only 19,000.

This next time around, organizers will have the benefit of more time. They will also have the benefit of the examples of successful legalization initiatives this year in Colorado and Washington.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Callum Yeater (not verified)

Legalization should not be something we have to wait for. Come on Obama Administration just drop cannabis from the schedule 1 list and do away with prohibition and free the weed that God put on this green Earth. But its just a dream :(
Sun, 11/25/2012 - 12:08am Permalink
Jalepno (not verified)

It seems ridiculous that a government restricts what an individual can or cannot ingest.  People should be judged on what they DO, not what they own or ingest.  It should be of no one's concern what consenting adults do in the privacy of their homes-- only what people do in public.  Police should protect people and property, period.  If someone behaves irresponsibly and gets addicted to drugs, it is a medical and/or psychological problem, NOT a criminal one.  It becomes criminal only if they misbehave in public (assault people), DUI, or commit robbery to feed a habit, and these activities are ALREADY against the law.  But, for someone to medicate themselves with marijuana, and laugh or sleep peacefully, should be no one else's business.

When will people wake up and realize that prohibition does not work?  It failed in the 1920's with liquor and only succeeded in creating crime cartels.  Nowadays, we apparently have learned nothing and have been futilely a lost "war on drugs" that is criminalizing millions of Americans.  For why?  No real reason aside from "we don't think it is a good idea".  Frankly, I don't think drug use is a good idea either, but I respect your right to do as you wish, as long as you do not endanger others, and governments should act accordingly.

Whether you like it or not, people will use drugs and no laws will stop them.  Such laws only empower the drug cartels, cost lives, resources, and have a more negative impact on society than the drugs or drug users have.  Wake up!

Lastly, if you wonder about the zeal behind drug prohibition, just follow the money trail:  Liquor industry, the pharmacological industry, law enforcement, prison industry, etc.  All these will potentially lose money or jobs if drugs are no longer criminalized.  And, these industries pay politicians a LOT of money to keep drugs illegal and the money flowing to them, instead.

Sun, 11/25/2012 - 1:31pm Permalink
Uncle Bob (not verified)

The biggest problem with the Drug War is that it is enacted in a way that is counterintuitive to its own stated goals.  The Drug War was supposed to bring us a demand reduction in the United States, but it hasn't.  We remain the #1 consumer of illegal drugs in the entire world.  The policies of the Drug War mark individuals for life, making it unlikely that they can ever correct their action and stop using drugs.

The Drug War causes small time users to be labeled as criminals, giving them a black stain on their record that will follow them for the rest of their lives.  In some cases, they are unable to vote, unable to receive financial aid from the government, unable to get some of the best jobs, or unable to be accepted into some of the best schools.

While the government has recognized (and published ) the finding that drug use "is not a moral failing", but rather is a health issue, it continues to enforce a policy which TREATS drug use as criminal activity.

Quite frankly, the current policies create a 3rd class of citizen--those who are marked for life by by drug convictions, who will never be able to rise above this conviction in finding a decent job or getting a decent education.  So as we can see, it creates a trap that once you fall in, you can't get back out again.

Despite all this, we continue to use more illegal drugs than anyone on the planet, and it's simply costing us far too much.  It goes beyond the fiscal costs, as well.. we have seen a lack of respect for the law.  What is it, 18 states now?  That allow medical Marijauan, in spite of federal law?  Two that allow recreational use?  No one wants to live in a society in which law and order are trivialized by a general lack of respect for following these laws... and the unpopularity of the drug war has led to the demonizing of police and other enforcement officials.  These should be seen as the heroes they are, but the policies they must enforce means they target non-violent individuals and ship them off to prison, for having a plastic bag with dried up plant in their pocket?

There's also a darker cost to all of this.  The numbers are out there, our friends at NORML or MPP could surely cite the numbers-- minorities, especially blacks, are arrested in greater numbers than whites, even though the drug use is evenly split among the races.  And among whites, it is those in the lower income class who are far more likely to be arrested.  So the War on Drugs is a thinly veiled Class and Race war.

Also of note, I noticed in the recent weeks that the ONDCP's website has made subtle changes since the legalization in WA and CO.  If you frequent the site often or know its content quite well, you may notice a subtle re-arranging of information there and how / where it is presented.  It looks to me like the government is winding up for a big push back against Legalization efforts and reform law in general.  Although our hopes were high that they would take a knee on this one, it just doesn't seem likely.  I can see the writing on the wall.  They are going to come down hard on the WA/CO thing... mark my words, the Drug War will go down fighting, it won't just vanish with a whimper in the night.  We have to fight back with democracy by speaking with our votes.  It's the only way to legitimately win.

Sun, 11/25/2012 - 9:41pm Permalink
Mark Mitcham (not verified)

In reply to by Uncle Bob (not verified)

I'm wondering what you think the feds will do to come down hard.  I don't think they have enough DEA agents to take on Colorado by itself, much less Washington and the rest of the country at the same time.  What can they do that they're not already doing?  How much "push back" do they have left?  They've maxed out their scare tactics, and they've run out of stupid shit to say, apparently.  What more can they do?


Mon, 11/26/2012 - 11:00pm Permalink
Uncle Bob (not verified)

In reply to by Mark Mitcham (not verified)

I think their strategy will be trying to "win the argument" by setting the two states up for failure.  They may do this under a thinly veiled appearance of trying to "let be" or under a more active opposition, I'm not sure.  But I think they'll do everything they can to undermine the state's efforts so that it doesn't work, or never gets off the ground in the first place, and then they'll point their finger and say "ah hah.  We TOLD you legalization wasn't the answer."

Of course maybe I'm completely wrong.  Maybe this will be Obama's "now would be a good time for beer" moment.  Who knows.  I want to believe that they'll just step back or even better, side with reformists.. but we have to take a look at history and realize the most likely outcome is that they will oppose this thing.

Wed, 11/28/2012 - 12:29am Permalink
Mark Mitcham (not verified)

In reply to by Uncle Bob (not verified)

You could well be right.  I'm just trying to look at all possibilities, including those I might not have considered.

Just because I don't see an attack on the horizon, doesn't mean there isn't one.

Thanks for the response.  Sounds reasonable.

Wed, 11/28/2012 - 5:15pm Permalink

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