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Marijuana activists in Montana weigh an appeal as court rejects bid for electronic signatures

Marijuana activists in Montana

Marijuana activists in Montana are considering an appeal after a district court rejected their proposal to collect signatures electronically for marijuana legalization in the state.

Electronic signature collection

The umbrella body dubbed ‘New Approach Montana’ stopped in-person signature collection as a measure against the spread of the Coronavirus. Consequently, the group advocated for electronic signature collection and filed a claim seeking the right to proceed with the digital method. However, top state officials who are opposed to cannabis reforms condemned the suit.

On April 30, a district court judge dismissed the group’s bid for a preliminary injunction, saying that it “failed to show that the statutes…infringe on Plaintiffs’ rights guaranteed by the Constitution under the present circumstances of this case.”

In the order, Judge John Larson concluded: “The Court finds that Plaintiffs claims do not meet the threshold for injunctive relief at this time.” The order also barred the New Approach Montana from pushing the deadline to submit signatures to August 3 instead of June 19.

Two cannabis proposals

The New Approach marijuana activists in Montana are pushing for a marijuana legalization ballot measure with two proposals: First, they seek a statutory initiative that would allow adult-use of recreational marijuana, especially regarding the possession and purchasing of cannabis from certified retailers. Second, they seek a constitutional amendment initiative to revise the clause in state law that allows the measure to cover only adults 21 years and above.

Despite the court rejection, the activists are keeping their options open. According to Pepper Peterson who is the group’s political director, they are still determined to accomplish their objective.

“A bunch of Montana cowboys have a little over a month to qualify an initiative to legalize adult use marijuana for the November 2020 ballot. The whole world fell apart in just a month, now I reckon it’s time for us to try to fix a small piece of our broken world in the same amount of time. If anyone can do it, this bunch of cannabis cowboys can,” Peterson said.

The Marijuana Policy Project’s deputy director Matthew Schweich also echoed similar sentiments. He said, “New Approach Montana is considering an appeal” following the court’s order. On the contrary, Attorney General Tim Fox blamed the activists for launching their petition a bit late before filing their suit. In a press release on Thursday, the AG lauded the court’s decision.

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