Regular City Council Meeting


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  Regular   3.       
Meeting Date: 08/09/2021  
TITLE:    Resolution to refer ballot issue regarding prohibiting marijuana businesses to November 2, 2021, election
Department: Legal  

Staff recommends City Council conduct a public hearing and approve the Resolution Referring a Proposed Ordinance to Prohibit Adult-Use Marijuana Dispensary Businesses to a Vote of the People at an Election to be Held on November 2, 2021.  The proposed ballot question will not prohibit medical marijuana.  
BACKGROUND (Consistency with Adopted Plans and Policies, if applicable)
Montana voters, including those in Yellowstone County and the City of Billings, approved Initiative Measure 190 (IM-190) which permitted recreational adult-use marijuana in the state. The IM-190 initiative, as amended by the legislature in House Bill 701, was signed into law on May 18, 2021. HB701 delayed many effective dates from the IM-190, expanded some local government regulatory options, and repealed the existing Montana Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA) and incorporated some of the MMMA provisions into the new law. Most of these changes will be effective January 1, 2022.

On July 6, 2021, during the City Council work session, Council directed staff to develop regulations for marijuana businesses while concurrently preparing a resolution to submit the ballot question to the Yellowstone County Election Administrator. Staff has created a committee consisting of 5 council members and several staff to consider regulations as well as a resolution to refer the matter to a vote of the electors of Billings. City Council must pass a resolution to submit the question to the voters by August 9 in order for it to appear on the November 2, 2021, ballot. 

At the July 19, 2021, work session, staff presented additional information to Council that Yellowstone County also planned to submit the question of whether to prohibit marijuana businesses to the voters.  This potential prohibition will not include medical marijuana.  If Yellowstone County has an election on this issue, the City does not need to do so. Because the County Commissioners would not vote until August 3, 2021, City Council still wished to proceed with the necessary steps to preserve the City's ability to submit its own question to voters in the event Yellowstone County decides not to submit the question to the voters following its August 3 public hearing. Therefore, this public hearing was advertised and staff has prepared the attached proposed resolution and ordinance in the event City Council wishes to proceed with the resolution.  

This memo and attached proposed Resolution are being drafted in anticipation of the possibility that the County does not submit this issue to the voters. The proposed Resolution is required to refer the matter to the Elections Administrator.  This Resolution contains the language that will appear on the ballot.  This resolution was presented to Council during the July 19, 2021, work session and some amendments proposed by council members and staff have been made since that date.  
City Council may:
  • Approve the Resolution to refer the ballot language to the Election Administrator to be submitted to the voters on November 2, 2021; or,
  • Modify the Resolution; or,
  • Not Approve the Resolution
The cost to place this item on the November 2, 2021 ballot will range between $6,000 to $20,000. That expense is dependent upon whether the ballot becomes a two-page document. If it does, then the City can anticipate a $20,000 cost.

Proposed Ordinance


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