- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 9, 2014

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - A measure that would have overturned Montana’s medical marijuana law likely will not appear on the November ballot.

Steve Zabawa, the Billings car-dealership owner who proposed the measure, told Lee Newspapers of Montana he thinks the initiative’s backers collected too few signatures.

The proposal sought to change state law to say any Schedule I drug in the federal Controlled Substances Act, which includes marijuana, “may not be legally possessed, received, transferred, manufactured, cultivated, trafficked, transported or used in Montana.”

Backers of Initiative 174 needed to obtain the signatures of at least 24,175 voters by June 20, including 5 percent of voters in at least 34 of the state’s 100 House districts. As of Wednesday, the Secretary of State’s Office had received only 12 percent of the signatures needed.

Based on the low number of signatures so far, secretary of state spokeswoman Terri McCoy said Wednesday she also doesn’t think the initiative will be on the ballot.

“I think Zabawa’s correct that they did not get enough,” she said.

An official tally will be available later this month.

Montana voters approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes in 2004. About 8,300 medical marijuana users are registered with the state.

Zabawa said he plans to ask the Legislature during the 2015 session to pass a referendum to put the proposed initiative on the 2016 ballot.

“I feel confident this will pass if put in front of the voters,” Zabawa said previously. “We do have the votes to get marijuana thrown out of the state.”

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