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Lawmakers Focus On Budget, Marijuana Policy For Session's Second Half

Selection of medical recreational cannabis at a legal retail store
Zenkyphoto/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Selection of medical recreational cannabis at a legal retail store

After a short break last week, Montana's lawmakers are back at the state Capitol. The 67th Legislative Session is now more than halfway to its 90-day deadline and details of the state budget and recreational marijuana regulations still need to be hammered out.

A framework for regulating recreational marijuana will likely go before a House committee in the next 10 days, according to House Majority Leader Sue Vinton, R-Billings. The legalization of recreational marjuana was approved by voters during the 2020 election. 

Vinton said Republican Rep. Mike Hopkins from Missoula is carrying the bill. 

“I know that it’s a heavy lift, so I’m sure that he’s going to want to give it a thorough examination before he presents it in committee," she said.

House Minority Leader Kim Abbott, D-Helena, hopes the debate starts sooner rather than later. 

“I think it’s the kind of thing that'll need some significant debate and some back and forth, and so getting that out of the gate and into the chamber would be pretty important I think," Abbott said.

Lawmakers will also have to decide how they want to spend the tax revenue from marijuana sales. That will be part of the larger discussion on balancing the State’s budget. 

Legislative leaders noted that lawmakers will also be busy considering the crush of bills that advanced ahead of procedural deadline last week and crossed chambers between the state Senate and House of Representatives.

Copyright 2021 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.