Montana judge nixes bid by cannabis backers to get digital signatures

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A Montana judge denied a request by a group seeking to gather signatures electronically to qualify two recreational marijuana initiatives for the November ballot amid coronavirus restrictions.

New Approach Montana had petitioned the court to allow it to gather signatures electronically for a proposal to make the use of recreational marijuana legal and taxable.

The group also wants to seek enough signatures for a constitutional amendment that would allow the state to set a legal age for the use of recreational marijuana.

District Judge John Larson said the group can petition Gov. Steve Bullock’s office for relief, pursue legislative change in 2021 or otherwise satisfy “the governor’s present directives while seeking the signatures plaintiffs require in the remaining time allowed.”

The judge rejected a request to extend the signature-gathering deadline from July 17 to Aug. 3 after the state argued that such a delay could lead to delays in certifying ballots.

“The state’s compelling interest in maintaining the integrity and security of its election process outweighs any burden on plaintiffs’ constitutional rights,” Larson wrote.

– Associated Press

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