Venturing out to 24th Street West today (5/20) I finally spotted my first recreational marijuana signature gatherer. Actually, I saw two. One person was set up in front of the Rimrock Mini Mall by Baskin Robbins and the other was at the corner of 24th and Central. My wife spotted another one over the by Dollar Tree/Goodwill today and a co-worker encountered another group of signature gatherers a couple of days ago in the downtown area. The signature collector I visited with was wearing a mask and there is a big box of individually wrapped pens for signing.

In this article published on April 16th I told you how Montana recreational marijuana use advocates had sued the state for the option to collect electronic signatures, due to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. The state ended up coming back by basically telling backers of the ballot initiatives to pound sand. You can buy a $300,000 house with an electronic signature, but for some reason our leaders don't trust e-signatures for ballot initiatives? Okay, whatever.

Here's my opinion: If you don't partake, that's cool. But let's stop criminalizing those who do. Plus, our tax coffers could use the extra revenue generated from marijuana sales. Eleven states have now fully legalized recreational cannabis use. 27 other states (including Montana) have legalized medicinal marijuana use and/or decriminalized it for possession, as visualized in this map from Business Insider. It's high time Montana legalized recreational marijuana too. Only 8 states remain staunch prohibitionists when it comes to the herb. And according to the Marijuana Policy Project, "more than a dozen cities and counties have directed local law enforcement to de-prioritize marijuana possession enforcement in their areas."

I've heard from some in the Montana marijuana industry that are actually OPPOSED to the current recreational initiatives being pushed. If you are in the industry and would like to comment on record, please reach out to me for a follow-up to this story.

Credit: Michael Foth TSM

In other Montana marijuana news, June 2nd is a big day for medical marijuana cardholders as "un-tethering" begins. For those unaware, current MM cardholders are only allowed to shop at ONE dispensary. The one you chose when you got your card. Thanks to the 2019 Legislature passing Senate Bill 265, as of June 2nd cardholders will now be able to shop from any licensed dispensary in the state. Read more HERE on the DPHHS website. This is great news for cardholders and I expect it will cause dispensaries to kick up their game a notch when it comes to price, quality, selection, etc. Competition is good.