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Montana residents contemplate recreational marijuana use initiatives and its effects

Posted at 6:56 PM, Oct 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-16 20:56:10-04

MONTANA — Recreational use of marijuana. It’s been a hot topic for residents in Montana, especially here in Gallatin County, which has the highest number of medical marijuana cardholders in the entire state.

Initiative I-190 and CI-118. You’ve seen or heard about the two, especially if you plan on voting in this upcoming general election. I-190 legalizes the use of marijuana for recreational purposes in Montana and CI-118 sets that minimum age of purchase at 21.

“You just go get stoned and you can go watch, play some auto theft Grand Auto Theft and eat some Cheez-Its. It’s not a great lifestyle,” said Steve Zabawa, the treasurer for Wrong For Montana.

Wrong For Montana is a ballot action committee against the initiatives.

“You know, right now we have a world-wide reputation across the world, and we’ve seen in Washington, Oregon, and Colorado is not what we’re looking for. That's been a miserable disaster,” Zabawa said.

And in most cases, you usually see a side against and a side for. But being in the cannabis industry has given this Bozeman resident a unique perspective.

“I see why it’s good and I see why it’s bad,” explained Matthew Hernandez, an employee with Top Shelf Botanicals.

Matthew interacts with customers every day who use marijuana for medical purposes.

“My average patient is a 55-year-old male, so they use most of the time edibles for their pain,” Hernandez said.

But he says if the initiatives pass, that may not be good for some of his clients.

“Our edibles usually range from anywhere from like 10 to like 500 to 600 milligrams and for it to be legalized, they have to set new rules and cap people off. So instead of buying like 1 edible that is 430 milligrams, they have to buy 4 different edibles at a different price,” Hernandez explained.

But he also understands the side for the initiatives.

“People who are 21, who can’t afford medical cards because they are kind of expensive or they don’t have the proper medical paperwork. That is expensive to go get. It’s not easy… will be easier for them to go acquire medical cannabis,” Hernandez said.

Both initiatives will be on the ballot for the upcoming 2020 general election.