This November, Montana residents will vote in statewide elections, as well as for president. They will also vote on two initiatives that, if passed, would legalize marijuana for recreational use.
One of the initiatives, CI-118, would amend the state constitution to allow marijuana legalization by “the Legislature or citizen initiative.” The other initiative, I-190, would actually legalize marijuana use and possession for adults over age 21. It would also allow for “resentencing and expungement of marijuana-related crimes.” People currently serving a sentence, or who have a marijuana-related crime on their record, could get legal relief.
Though Montana legalized medical marijuana back in 2004, the drug remains illegal otherwise. If these initiatives pass, Montana will join 11 other states, including Washington and Oregon, that have fully legalized marijuana possession, sale, cultivation and use.
Post-conviction relief for marijuana crimes
The section in I-190 about resentencing and expungement is very interesting. A criminal record can make it difficult to get a job and find a place to live. The ability to expunge their record could help many people in the Missoula area move on with their lives. Resentencing of current marijuana-related convicts could also help undo some of the damage that tough cannabis laws have caused.
If recreational marijuana becomes legal in Montana, its sale will be highly regulated, as medical marijuana already is. This could mean new and more expensive licenses for dispensaries, with potentially only the larger chains surviving. But from a consumer standpoint, this change to the law could greatly decrease the number of drug crime arrests in the state.
Recreational marijuana is still illegal in Montana
The results of the vote remain to be seen. In the meantime, if you are arrested on marijuana charges, you may be facing prison time and other penalties. Contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to preserve your rights.