(Helena, MT) – Today, the leadership of SAFE Montana & Wrong for Montana announced they would be voluntarily dismissing their lawsuit aimed at overturning the results of Initiative 190, the ballot measure that legalized and commercialized marijuana in Montana.
Steve Zabawa, Executive Director of SAFE Montana released the following statement explaining the voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit:
“The goal of this lawsuit was aimed at overturning a ballot measure that was foisted upon Montanans by out-of-state, dark money groups and the pot industry. While we hoped to see this process proceed successfully, we instead will champion the work done in the Legislature to pass HB 701 into law. We are proud to say that as a result of HB 701, Montana will move forward with some of the tightest regulations on the marijuana industry in the country. As a result of the adoption of HB 701, it is our belief the issue raised in the lawsuit is moot. Therefore, we are voluntarily moving to drop the lawsuit against I-190.
“That said, there are still more causes for celebration among our supporters. A key point raised by Wrong for Montana throughout this process was the fact that I-190 ran afoul of the Montana State Constitution. According to Article III, section 4 of the Montana Constitution, the a ballot measure may not provide for the appropriation of revenue. This is a power that belongs only to the Legislature. The dark money framers and backers of I-190 violated this provision of the Montana Constitution by promising voters that the supposed revenue raised from marijuana legalization would go towards certain interests.
“As a result of our lawsuit and advocacy, the Legislature moved quickly to pass HB 651, a bill that made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that any future ballot measure will undergo rigorous review as to whether it appropriates funds. The law also instituted other limitations on ballot measures that would limit the power of dark money groups to abuse the ballot initiative process and grants the Montana Attorney General the power to review an initiative for its legality. We see this as a vindication for our efforts.
“In a recent poll, 28% of Montanans who voted YES on I-190 stated they would have changed their vote if they had known the initiative was being financially supported by out-of-state dark money, and 23% would have changed their vote if they knew the appropriations of revenue were unconstitutional and the proposed tax revenue was over exaggerated.”