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Montana Marijuana Activists Weigh Appeal After Court Rejects Electronic Signatures For Legalization

Several drug policy reform campaigns have been derailed by COVID-19

Montana activists behind a proposed marijuana legalization ballot measure are weighing an appeal after a district court dismissed their lawsuit seeking the right to collect signatures electronically amid the coronavirus pandemic.

New Approach Montana, which suspended in-person signature gathering to mitigate the spread of the virus, sued the state and alleged that laws barring digital signature collection are unconstitutional. Top officials who’ve expressed opposition to cannabis reform were quick to condemn the suit.

And on Thursday, a state district court judge rejected the group’s request for declaratory and preliminary injunctive relief, concluding that they “failed to show that the statutes…infringe on Plaintiffs’ rights guaranteed by the Constitution under the present circumstances of this case.”

“The Court finds that Plaintiffs claims do not meet the threshold for injunctive relief at this time,” Judge John Larson said in the order, which also denied New Approach Montana’s request to extend the deadline to submit signatures from June 19 to August 3.

The group is behind two cannabis proposals: One statutory initiative that would allow adults to possess and purchase cannabis from licensed retailers and another constitutional amendment initiative that would make a technical change to state law specifying that only those 21 and older would be covered by the measure.

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