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Montana contractors group emerges as leading legalization opponent

Published on September 14, 2020
The Montana Contractors Association is using its members' money to fight cannabis legalization. Meanwhile, a 10-year construction boom continues with no cannabis-related issues in the legal city of Seattle. (AdobeStock)

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Organized opposition to the legalization of recreational marijuana in Montana has emerged, the Missoulian newspaper reported on Thursday.

The Montana Contractors Association, a builder’s group, opposes two state measures to legalize adult-use cannabis on the grounds that it would result in unsafe workplaces and a reduction in the number of available workers.

Montana Contractors Association leaders think legalization would result in unsafe workplaces.

Another organization against legalizing recreational marijuana, Wrong for Montana, was formed this week and focuses on what it calls the “societal ills” of the drug, which has been legalized for recreational use in 11 states.

The contractor association’s CEO, David Smith, said it would help finance Wrong for Montana’s efforts.

Election 2020: Montana cannabis legalization guide

In Montana, Initiative 190 and Constitutional Initiative 118 will be on the ballot for the Nov. 3 election. 

The first initiative would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana sales and set the age for buying it at age 21. The separate constitutional initiative must be passed by voters to legalize the age for buying cannabis within the state constitution.

Pepper Peterson, a spokesman for New Approach Montana, an organization leading the effort to legalize marijuana in the state, said Thursday that legal marijuana might benefit contractors. 

“We think eventually they’ll see the benefit of it in terms of less opioid usage, less days off because their pain decreases, and they’re going to see a substantial increase in (tax) revenue,” that could fund more state construction projects, Peterson said.

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