Can We Please Let These Chickens Hatch Before We Count Them?

(Otherwise, we may end up with a gargantuan bowl of scrambled eggs)

Montana voters passed I-190 last November legalizing the sale of recreational marijuana in our state. So, have you gone out and made a purchase yet? No, of course not, because it will take quite a bit of time to implement a state-regulated program to make it happen. And we’re not talking about a simple program. We are talking about a complicated program with lots of rules, regulations, allocations and protections. It is not something to be taken lightly.

In order to implement a safely regulated program, over the next two years, the state will need to hire a minimum of 77 people to manage it. The proposed program also carries a price tag of about $15 million redirected tax-payer dollars.

Are you shaking your head yet? We are too. And here’s the real kicker. An Emerson College poll determined that 28% of the “yes” voters who were polled recently would actually change their “yay” to a “nay” if they knew then what they know now.

New Approach Montana, the proponents of legalizing recreational marijuana, made promises they have no authority to make, let alone keep. Tax revenue allocations are determined by the legislature and currently, several bills are being proposed as to where that revenue will flow. It is not the same places that NAM claimed.

How do we fix this mess?

We take our time to create and implement a program that is fiscally smart and provides safety to our citizens. Speaking of time, our time is being spent to make sure this issue is on the 2022 ballot so that the fine citizens of Montana have an opportunity to vote again now that they have been armed with all the information they should have been given before November 2020.

Other states that have legalized recreational marijuana are now reaping the pitfalls of that choice. Many are introducing legislation to change the program, put stricter limits on it, or repeal it all together. They are looking to cut their losses and flatten the rising curve of overdose illnesses, increased traffic accidents while under the influence of pot, and the lack of revenue as the income is still paying for program management. We are smarter than that and we should learn from their mistakes.

Now is the time to let your Senators and Representatives know how you feel. We, the people, have rights and we need to speak up. Let’s hold our horses, take our time, and ensure we implement the right program or vote again so that maybe we don’t have to implement one at all.