Montana Medical Cannabis Industry Hopeful Despite Solid Voter Support for MMJ Restrictions

Image of sample election ballot

At first glance, a poll released last week about strict new regulations on Montana’s medical marijuana industry seems highly discouraging for the MMJ community.

Roughly 44% of registered voters in the state support a ballot measure to keep in place a much more restrictive medical cannabis law enacted last year, while just 31% said they are against the tighter regulations, according to the poll.

But the Montana MMJ industry has reason to be optimistic despite the lopsided numbers: The ballot measure – called Referendum 124 – could still fail. A full 25% of voters remain undecided on the issue, meaning there’s time to convince a sizable portion of the population to reject the restrictive law.

MMJ advocates say the fact that the measure doesn’t have overwhelming support this late in the game means there’s a good chance it can be defeated.

Concerned with an explosion of dispensaries and rapidly growing patient numbers, state lawmakers passed the new rules last year in a bid to rein in the industry. The strategy worked, as patient numbers plummeted and all but a handful of MMJ centers closed up shop. But medical cannabis supporters collected enough signatures to force a referendum on the new law.

The ballot initiative asks voters whether they want to keep the tighter law enacted last year or revert to the original legislation from 2004.

The fate of Montana’s MMJ industry now hinges entirely on the election. Earlier this month, the state Supreme Court overturned a previous ruling that blocked some of the most restrictive parts of the new law from taking hold. Therefore, if voters pass Referendum 124 come November, there’s a good chance the state will be able to implement those restrictive portions of the law as well keep the other restrictions in place.

Image by salam pax via flickr

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