By Cole Grant/UM Legislative News Service
HELENA – Montana lawmakers may have the opportunity to study legalizing recreational marijuana in the next year or so.
“I’m not sure it’s the best thing for Montana. I just feel it’s an opportunity, given what’s going on all around us, it’s an opportunity to take a look at this,” said Rep. Mary Ann Dunwell, D-Helena.
House Joint Resolution 35, heard Monday, would create a committee that would study how recreational legalization would be carried out in Montana.
The panel would look at things like if liquor control should be a guide for marijuana control, how legalization has affected other states, and the pros and cons of it all. The findings would be reported to the next Montana Legislature.
“Why should all of this money be going to the black market, when it could be going to Montana’s budget?” Dunwell said. “Funding substance abuse programs, funding other human services programs, funding child protective services, funding developmental disabilities, senior long term care, I could go on and on and on.”
There were no proponents or opponents for the interim study in the House Judiciary Committee.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, no states have yet legalized marijuana other than by voter initiatives.
Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized small amounts of adult-use recreational marijuana, and 21 have it decriminalized.
Also according to the organization, as of the end of March, 19 states have pending legislation for legalizing adult-use marijuana. So far this year, Utah, Wyoming, Mississippi and New Mexico have all had bills legalizing marijuana fail.
Cole Grant is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.