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  1. Alfa
    TOBACCO TAX, MARIJUANA QUALIFY

    HELENA -- Initiatives to more than double the taxes on most tobacco
    products and legalize marijuana for medical purposes qualified for the
    November ballot Friday.

    That brings to seven the number of initiatives and referendums that
    will go before voters in the fall general election.

    Initiative 149 calls for increasing the 70-cent tax on a pack of
    cigarettes to $1.70. The tax on chewing tobacco would jump from 35
    cents to 85 cents an ounce, and the tax rate on other tobacco products
    would double from 25 percent to 50 percent of the wholesale price.

    The measure, which takes effect Jan. 1 if passed, would raise an
    additional $44.7 million in its first full year, according to
    estimates from the governor's budget office.

    Most of the new money -- about $38.4 million a year -- would be spent
    on programs providing health insurance to poor children; prescription
    drugs to poor children, the elderly, chronically ill and disabled; and
    help to small businesses that offer employee health insurance.

    About $6 million would be added to the state treasury and $414,000
    available for state building needs.

    The secretary of state's office said Friday it had certified 26,187
    petition signatures to qualify the tobacco tax measure in 33 of 56
    counties. The medical marijuana measure, known as I-148, had 22,059
    certified signatures and qualified in 28 counties.

    To get on the ballot, each initiative needed at least 20,510
    signatures representing a minimum of 5 percent of the votes cast for
    governor in the 2000 election from at least 28 counties.

    Supporters of raising tobacco taxes have said the move not only will
    mean more money for important health-related programs, but will also
    discourage children from taking up smoking.

    Healthy Kids Healthy Montana, a coalition of groups backing I-149,
    said research indicates the higher tax on cigarettes alone will cut
    youth smoking by 16 percent.

    I-148 would allow Montanans to grow, possess and use limited amounts
    of marijuana to treat certain medical conditions and combat related
    pain, nausea, seizures and muscle spasms. Patients could use
    marijuana, under medical supervision, to alleviate symptoms related to
    such diseases as cancer, glaucoma and AIDS.

    In addition to I-148 and I-149, other measures on the ballot
    are:

    - CI-96 to add a prohibition on gay marriages to the
    constitution

    - I-147 to repeal a ban on use of cyanide in new mining
    operations

    - CA40 to create in the constitution a $10 million trust fund for
    combatting noxious weeds

    - CA41 to create a constitutional right to hunt and
    fish

    - CA42 to extend term limits for legislators from eight years in any
    16-year period to 12 years in any 24-year period.

Comments

  1. Alfa
    BOOST IN TOBACCO TAX, MEDICAL MARIJUANA BRING BALLOT ITEMS TO 7

    HELENA (AP) - Initiatives to more than double the taxes on most
    tobacco products and legalize marijuana for medical purposes qualified
    for the November ballot Friday.

    That brings to seven the number of initiatives and referendums that
    will go before voters in the fall general election.

    Initiative 149 calls for increasing the 70-cent tax on a pack of
    cigarettes to $1.70.

    The tax on chewing tobacco would jump from 35 cents to 85 cents an
    ounce, and the tax rate on other tobacco products would double from 25
    percent to 50 percent of the wholesale price.

    The measure, which would take effect Jan. 1 if passed, would raise an
    additional $44.7 million in its first full year, according to
    estimates from the governor's budget office.

    Most of the new money - about $38.4 million a year - would be spent on
    programs providing health insurance to poor children; prescription
    drugs to poor children, the elderly, chronically ill and disabled; and
    help to small businesses that offer employee health insurance.

    About $6 million would be added to the state treasury and $414,000
    made available for state building needs.

    The secretary of state's office said Friday it had certified 26,187
    petition signatures to qualify the tobacco tax measure in 33 of 56
    counties. The medical marijuana measure, known as I-148, had 22,059
    certified signatures and qualified in 28 counties.

    To get on the ballot, each initiative needed at least 20,510
    signatures representing a minimum of 5 percent of the votes cast for
    governor in the 2000 election from at least 28 counties.

    Supporters of raising tobacco taxes have said the move not only will
    mean more money for important health-related programs, but will also
    discourage children from taking up smoking.

    Healthy Kids Healthy Montana, a coalition of groups backing I-149,
    said research indicates that the higher tax on cigarettes alone will
    cut youth smoking by 16 percent.

    I-148 would allow Montanans to grow, possess and use limited amounts
    of marijuana to treat certain medical conditions and combat related
    pain, nausea, seizures and muscle spasms.

    Patients could use marijuana, under medical supervision, to alleviate
    symptoms related to such diseases as cancer, glaucoma and AIDS.

    In addition to I-148 and I-149, other measures on the ballot
    are:

    * CI-96 to add a prohibition on gay marriages to the Montana
    Constitution.

    * I-147 to repeal a ban on use of cyanide in new mining
    operations.

    * CA40 to create in the constitution a $10 million trust fund for
    combatting noxious weeds.

    * CA41 to create a constitutional right to hunt and
    fish.

    * CA42 to extend term limits for legislators from eight years in any


    16-year period to 12 years in any 24-year period.
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