The six commissioners who voted to add the vote to the ballot focused on both the cost of regulating the marijuana industry, as well as the fact that there would eventually need to be some sort of regulatory actions taken to control the industry. Others voiced frustrations with how the issue had been politicized, and the lack of action taken to clarify the matter at a state or federal level.
“I think that the voters did not vote on HB 701, which came out of the state legislature,” said council member Penny Ronning. “They voted on ballot initiative 190 — 11 sentences. The state took those 11 sentences and quite frankly created chaos in our state.”
Among the three council members who opposed placing the additional vote on the ballot, a common sentiment was the idea that the voters had already had an opportunity to vote on the issue, and made their decision. “The voters have already decided,” said Joy. “If we ask the voters to decide something, and they choose something, it’s up to us … to figure out how to deal with it, how to regulate it.”
With the passing of the council’s motion, the issue of which individual parts of the marijuana industry to permit within Billings city limits will be placed on November’s ballots.
Voters will be asked to vote yes or no on permitting each of the defined categories within the industry, including growing and cultivation of marijuana, manufacturing marijuana-based goods, dispensing medical marijuana, dispensing recreational marijuana, dispensing both types of marijuana, setting up testing facilities for marijuana, and the transportation of marijuana products.