Montana: Petition Aims To Put Marijuana Legalization On Ballot

By Lauren Maschmedt, NBC Montana

There is a truth that must be heard! BOZEMAN, Mont. -- Montana medical marijuana supporters are campaigning for a new petition drive.

This one would legalize marijuana across the board.

The petition aims to put Constitutional Initiative 110 (CI-110) on the ballot in the 2012 elections.

CI-110 calls for an amendment to the 'adult rights' article in the Montana Constitution.

As it stands, the article states adults have the right to purchase, consume or possess alcohol.

Supporters want the article expanded to include marijuana.

It classifies adults as over 18, but of course under federal law, no one can possess alcohol under 21.

Trained petitioner Rick Whatman said the over 21 law would apply to marijuana, rather than allowing it over 18.

"I think with all the support that we have on this initiative, that we should do very well with it" Whatman said.

Whatman was a trained petitioner and supporter for Initiative Referendum 124, which was backed by grassroots organization Patients for Reform, Not Repeal and put Senate Bill 423 on the November ballot.

At the end of the 2011 session, state lawmakers passed SB 423, which placed strict new regulations on medical marijuana.

Seeing the success at gathering enough signatures for IR-124, Whatman said he has no doubt they'll be able to do it again.

And the process will be streamlined the second time around, he said.

"I think that with this one that it will go probably a lot smoother" Whatman said, adding "We shouldn't have a problem at all getting CI-110 on the ballot."

Petitioners must gather just over 48,000 signatures in 40 house districts to place CI-110 on the ballot.

The deadline for that is the end of June.

If CI-110 ends up on the ballot and voted through, the constitutional amendment would take effect July of 2013.

"It doesn't change anything federally" Whatman said. "But I think if this gets on the ballot, that the state has to really look at it and realize, 'What are we going to do?'"

Whatman hopes CI-110 will prompt state officials to figure out the balance between state law and federal law.

"This is a big issue" he said, adding "we need to stand up for ourselves and our own state, and back the feds off."

Find out more about CI-110 and it's ballot issue committee Montana First.