We know this because the official results are back from Alan Miller, the Elections Specialist in the Montana Secretary of State’s Office.
- For I-178 to tax and regulate the possession of marijuana we collected 9,750 signatures.
- For CI-115 to legalize marijuana outright we collected 7,215 signatures.
So what happened?
We needed more than 24,175 to get on the ballot and we got 40% of that.
For the constitutional initiative it was an even steeper climb, with around 48,000 signatures needed.
We got about 15% of that.
When you break it down to the county level it’ll look like this:
Final County Results for I-178
Big Horn: 55
Deer Lodge: 4
Golden Valley: 3
Judith Basin: 1
Lewis & Clark: 442
Silver Bow: 235
Sweet Grass: 4
Final County Results for CI-115
Big Horn: 21
Deer Lodge: 3
Judith Basin: 1
Lewis & Clark: 177
Silver Bow: 191
Sweet Grass: 2
- Yellowstone: 3,213
- Gallatin: 1,355
- Flathead: 1,141
- Missoula: 1,076
- Cascade: 656
- Lewis & Clark: 442
- Sanders: 361
- Dawson: 266
- Silver Bow: 235
- Ravalli: 209
That comes out to 8,954 signatures for those ten counties, or 91% of the signatures collected for I-178.
- Yellowstone: 2,265
- Flathead: 1,147
- Gallatin: 811
- Missoula: 747
- Cascade: 415
- Sanders: 376
- Silver Bow: 191
- Lewis & Clark: 177
- Ravalli: 151
- Carbon: 151
That comes out to 6,431 signatures for those ten counties, or 89% of the signatures collected for CI-115.
What can we learn from this?
It seems that Yellowstone County is the most eager for marijuana legalization, and the largest city there is Billings.
It’s the largest city in the state as well, and for many, many years people have said how conservative it is.
This is due in large part to all the oil business that started up there in the 60s and 70s.
Today, however, it seems there are many that are quite liberal.
We had our strongest showing from that area of the state, and it came down to a few individuals doing most of the work.
After that we see that Gallatin County, home of Bozeman, gave us our second highest totals for one initiative and the third highest for the other.
Much of the infrastructure for Montana’s medical marijuana industry is located in this area, and it’ll become a powerhouse when legalization takes hold.
I’m going to go ahead and say that 3,000 new jobs will be created in that area alone when that happens.
Flathead County was very good to us, giving the second highest number of signatures for outright legalization and the third highest for regulation.
This is another conservative, Republican area, but with so many older folks wanting a break from Big Pharma’s poison, marijuana is taking hold.
I suspect most of the signatures came from Kalispell and Whitefish. Those are rich and well-off areas of the state, full of transplants.
Could that California conservatism have a hippy tinge to it?
I hope so.
Next up we get to my neck of the woods, Missoula County. We came in fourth for signatures gathered on both of the initiatives.
I personally had the goal to gather 500 signatures and I think I came pretty close to it.
What I mentioned to many people was how disappointed I was with Missoula, however.
Weren’t we supposed to be the Berkeley of the North, a liberal stronghold, progressive heaven?
Why then do we have such low numbers compared to other areas of the state?
I think the answer is laziness and indifference.
Missoula is known as a place that you can always get marijuana, and it’s been that way for decades.
‘Legal…illegal…what difference does it make?’ so many are thinking.
I feel that’s the main reason for our terrible showing compared to other counties.
Cascade County comes in fifth, with Great Falls leading the way there, I’m sure.
Like most of the counties, I feel this was a handful, perhaps up to two dozen, individuals that took it upon themselves to print out the initiatives, get a clipboard, and get out there on some sidewalks downtown or at area events.
This is how the Montana marijuana movement operated in 2016 and we should be proud of ourselves.
We had no backing, no financial support, and scant media attention.
Despite that, we got off our asses and did the footwork to get 40% of the signatures we needed.
That’s people power, and it’ll only get more powerful.
I’m not going to get into the other counties.
Perhaps others will.
The Montana marijuana movement has a group on Facebook called Cycling for Sensible Drug Policy.
It’s there that you can find lots of information, people to talk to, and more as we approach a two-month cut-off for medical marijuana in the state.
I’d like to take a moment to say how especially proud I am of all the individuals that gathered signatures around the state.
Some that stood out to me were:
- Doug May: This guy was in Billings and was collecting nearly everyday. I don’t think it’d be an understatement to say he gathered a thousand or more.
- Tara Cabarett: This woman was in Sidney, about as unforgiving a place to collect signatures as I can think of. Despite this, she set up tables on the side of the road and put forth a lot of effort.
- John Downs: This individual gathered signatures and was always ready with insightful advice on how we would do better.
- Anthony Varriano: Here’s the guy who started the marijuana initiative process for us, and he did more than almost anybody. He never got negative when it became clear we might not make it.
- Dawn Peterson-Smith: This woman was another that gathered and also posted a lot in the Facebook group that kept people motivated.
I’m sure there are tons of people that I’m missing, and I really should have done a better job writing this up as we went along.
At this point I can just scroll a bit through the Facebook group, pick out some names that are still there, and say what I think.
There’s of course the good folks at the Cannabus, and we don’t want to forget them.
They drove an RV all over the state and collected hundreds if not a thousand or more signatures.
Lots of work, but nothing to show for it.
Hey, that’s politics.
I’ve run for office twice now. The first time I got 9% of the vote and the second time I got 18%.
Maybe in 2018 I’ll get 36% and then in 2020 I’ll be elected.
That’s positive thinking and staying optimistic.
Being negative will only make you feel bad about what we did, and it’ll make you want to skip it next time.
There are lots of people like that, for Montana has tried to legalize marijuana before.
When you lose, it sucks and it makes you feel bad.
It also makes you stronger and wiser.
I hope the strong and confident individuals that gathered 16,965 signatures for the two initiatives are proud of the work they did.
It was work, unpaid, and pretty thankless at times.
But we did it.
And we’ll do it again.
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