Votes roll in for issues on the 2020 ballot
Last updated 11/4/2020 at 12:54pm
Tuesday's election still has yet to see more than 30 percent of Montana precincts fully report their ballots, but the issues on the ballot have seen significant returns.
Constitutional Initiative 118 and Initiative No. 190 work together to legalize possession of recreational marijuana for people over that age of 21.
CI-118 amends the Montana Constitution to allow for the legislature or a citizen initiative to establish a minimum legal age for the possession, use and purchase of marijuana, in a similar way to the regulation of alcohol in the state.
I-190 actually legalizes the possession and use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21 and imposes a 20 percent tax on sales.
It also requires the Montana Department of Revenue to develop rules to regulate marijuana businesses, and allows for the resentencing or expungement of marijuana-related crimes.
CI-118 currently has 58 percent approval with I-190 just behind that rate at 57.
Proponents of these measures have argued that the drug is no more dangerous or destructive than alcohol, which is legal, and that the creation of a well-regulated marijuana industry will bring jobs and revenue to the state.
Opponents argue that it will hurt Montana's workforce in a time where employers are experiencing a shortage of motivated, well-trained staff.
More contentious is Legislative Referendum No. 130, which is at 51 percent approval with fewer than 6,000 votes in its lead.
LR-130 would remove local governments' authority to regulate the carrying of permitted concealed weapons in their respective jurisdictions ceding control of that to the state legislature.
The measure would continue to allow local governments to regulate unpermitted concealed weapons and unconcealed weapons in public occupied buildings, but would remove local governments' power to regulate the possession of firearms by "convicted felons, adjudicated mental incompetents, illegal aliens, and minors."
Critics of this initiative contend that it is poorly written, unconstitutional and gives the state too much power, but proponents say it will prevent local governments from attempting to pass unconstitutional and ineffective laws restricting the rights of their citizens to own firearms.