A group opposed to the legalization of recreational marijuana plans to ask the Montana Supreme Court to remove I-190 from the ballot because it violates the Montana Constitution.

Steve Zabawa of Wrong for Montana set out the purpose of the lawsuit.

“We have prepared this lawsuit and we are in the process of filing it,” said Zabawa. “Brian Thompson at BKBH is our attorney, and we're going to ask that the Supreme Court of Montana remove this thing because it is a flawed initiative. According to the Montana constitution, article three section four, you cannot allocate the revenue from an initiative, as the funds must be allocated from the general fund by the Montana Legislature.”

Zabawa said, in his view, New Approach Montana, the group behind I-190, clearly does not understand Montana law.

“A group that hides information, tells lies and clearly doesn't understand how state government works is pushing an agenda with an ulterior motive; greed. The prime purpose behind efforts to legalize recreational marijuana in our state is to make money for big corporations who will eliminate small business dispensaries and lure tourists to our state for the sole purpose of purchasing pot and getting high.”

In a related matter, Zabawa pointed out a companion measure, CI-118 which would mandate the legal age to purchase marijuana at 21, rather than at 18.

“Look at I 190,” he said. “If that measure passes on its own, and without CI-118, then Montana would be the first state in the country, in fact, the only place in the world where potentially high school seniors can purchase legally purchased marijuana because it would be 18 and up who can get access to this drug, not 21 and up.”

Attorney Brian Thompson of the Helena law firm BKBH, said the marijuana legalization effort has been a disaster in every state where it has passed.

“Every single state with a mature marijuana market, including California, Colorado, Washington and Nevada; all of those states combined have over a $71 billion budget deficit right now and they've actually written the federal government to ask for additional bailout relief,” he said. “So the states have not been insulated from COVID-19 budgetary issues with their legal marijuana markets after six years, so no state that's going to legalize it now should expect to be insulated from that that issue.”

Zabawa told reporters on the press call when he hopes will happen if and when the Montana Supreme Court hears their case.

“I hope next week that the Montana Supreme Court sets a date to hear it and gets it out to their seven justices and then they come to they read through it and then do their research and then throw the initiative off the ballot. That's best case for us.”

KGVO has reached out to several state legislators, the Attorney General’s office, the Commissioner of Political Practices and New Approach Montana for their input and response.

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