The Montana Senate on Friday approved the marijuana implementation package that’s been under construction for several weeks in the upper chamber, sending the bill back to the House for a final legislative decision before the session is expected to end next week.

House Bill 701, sponsored by Missoula Republican Rep. Mike Hopkins, passed the Senate on a final 34-16 vote Friday. Next week the House will review the adjustments to the bill made in the Senate. From there, House lawmakers can either approve it and send it to the governor for a signature, or reject it and form a conference committee to work toward a compromise with lawmakers in the Senate.

The bipartisan working group that applied the amendments and lifted the proposal out of committee earlier this week made a unified effort Friday to win over the GOP-dominated Senate. Many Republican lawmakers have been uneasy about legalizing marijuana, which remains illegal at the federal level. Democrats have been stubborn to go along with the implementation package Republicans presented because it strays so far from the ballot initiative 57% of voters approved last fall.

Read More…