Poll: Montana Voters Back State’s Strict New Pot Regulations

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The lion’s share of Montana residents support new laws meant to rein in the state’s medical marijuana industry, according to a poll released this week.

More than 60 percent of locals who took a Montana State University-Billings survey said they approve of the changes, signaling residents agree with lawmakers that the MMJ industry has grown too quickly and needs more regulation. Just 28 percent or those who responded said they are against the stricter laws, while the rest were ostensibly ambivalent.

In April, state lawmakers approved a radical overhaul of Montana’s medical pot regulations, adopting measures aimed at preventing the emergence of large-scale marijuana operations and significantly slashing the number of registered cardholders in the state by making it harder to qualify for the program. The new law essentially repeals regulations that voters approved seven years ago.

Dispensary owners and other pot professionals have challenged the move in court, and the case is ongoing. They also recently gathered enough signatures to get the issue on the 2012 ballot, allowing voters to decide the fate of the medical marijuana industry in Montana.

But the future looks grim, at least at this point. Although that election is still a year away, the MSU poll results show that the state’s cannabis industry has a tough road ahead of it. Cannabis proponents will have to lobby hard to sway more voters, given that the majority don’t seem to be on their side. If the ballot measure fails, numerous dispensaries and grow operations could go out of business, insiders say.