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Groups For, Against Recreational Marijuana Debate In Missoula

Cannabis in jars.
Cannabis in jars.

Montana voters will decide in the 2020 election whether to join 11 other states that have legalized adult use of recreational marijuana. Groups for and against the idea debated on Monday at a forum hosted by City Club Missoula.

The group New Approach Montana proposed both Initiative 190 and Constitutional Initiative 118. The first would allow for and regulate recreational marijuana use in the state, and impose a 20% tax on sales. The second would make the legal age for use 21 and older.

Dave Lewis, senior policy advisor for New Approach Montana, said during Monday’s forum that legalizing recreational marijuana will create new jobs and generate tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue. Lewis said he’s studied the impact of recreational marijuanna in Colorado, Washington and Alberta, Canada.

"And the more I read about it, the more I thought, my goodness this is a great opportunity."

Steve Zabawa is treasurer for the group Wrong for Montana, which started campaigning against legalization last week. Zabawa is a long time opponent of the measure, saying it leads to higher rates of impaired driving, and addiction to harder drugs like meth.

"And my point is that I haven’t seen anything come good out of smoking marijuana, personally, other than a high and be stoned and get munchies."

Election day is Nov. 3. Absentee ballots are available starting October 2.

Copyright 2020 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Shaylee is a UM Journalism School student. She reports and helps produce Montana Evening News on MTPR.