Recreational marijuana group turns to TV ads ahead of election

A group seeking to legalize recreational marijuana in Montana is turning to television advertisements for the upcoming election.

According to the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices reports, since October of last year, New Approach Montana has raised over $4.7 million for their campaign.

Recently, they shelled out $2.3 million for TV commercials to hit the air in October.

You’ll see two marijuana measures on the ballot.

Constitutional Amendment 118 would allow anyone over 21 to purchase marijuana, and Initiative 190 would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana. If passed, it would put a 20% tax on non-medical marijuana.

“(TV commercials) will get the message out there and remind folks — like I said, there are two initiatives, that way they don’t just get lost in the fog of the election season, so you know we had to spend that little bit of money and make sure we do get on the airwaves,” New Approach Montana spokesman Pepper Peterson said.

Over $1.5 million of the funds they raised went toward getting enough signatures to get both initiatives it on the ballot. Officials say that was their biggest battle.

“We reinvented signature gathering, and we went out there and Montanans showed up, is what happened, despite the coronavirus, Montanans from every single town, from every single legislative district, came out in force and signed these initiatives,” said Peterson.

Now they need votes and donors to keep the campaign going.

We broke down their financing reports, and the largest contributor is North Fund. From October to the end of August they've given them over $2.9 million.

We reached out to the group to find out who they are, and they gave us this statement:

“The North Fund, a 501(c)(4) non-partisan social impact organization, partners with committed community leaders to help make our country a more just, fair, and equitable place to live, work, and raise families. We focus on supporting innovative social entrepreneurship, educational initiatives, and advocacy campaigns that lift up communities and create real and lasting change.”

We can’t see who gives that group money because of its tax status.

We called the office listed on their financing forms. The woman who answered said she didn’t recognize the name of the group or its treasurer.