Montana Supreme Court Rejects Pot-Initiative Lawsuit


A lawsuit brought by an anti-marijuana group seeking to block statewide legalization of recreational cannabis was quickly rejected by the Montana Supreme Court.

An attorney for Wrong for Montana and its treasurer, Steve Zabawa, filed a petition Tuesday seeking to invalidate Initiative 190, a ballot measure that would legalize marijuana in the state, according to the Daily Inter Lake. The group argues I-190 would illegally earmark tax revenue from pot sales to be used for specific purposes, which is a responsibility reserved for the Legislature.

Zabawa and his attorney, Brian Thompson, pointed to Article III, Section 4 of the Montana Constitution, which says, “The people may enact laws by initiative on all matters except appropriations of money and local or special laws.” Their lawsuit hinged on the meaning of the term “appropriation.”

The court dismissed the suit on Wednesday, saying Zabawa’s group did not demonstrate the case is urgent enough to skip over the usual trial and appeal phases, according to the story.

New Approach Montana, the committee backing I-190, celebrated the court’s decision.

New Approach Montana also backs a companion amendment to the state Constitution that would raise the legal age for recreational marijuana use to 21. The group says legal marijuana would generate more than $236 million in taxes over the next six years, citing a study from the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research.



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