This Friday, February 9, the first ever Cannabis Conference will be held at the Montana State Capitol. The conference will bring state officials from the Department of Revenue, the Department of Agriculture and DPHHS together with Medical Marijuana providers across the state. It's a sign that state officials are working closer with the medical marijuana industry on a clearer path, after a confusing decade of looser and stricter restrictions. House District 90 Representative Ellie Hill says there's been a lot of growth in the medical marijuana marketplace since the legislature adjourned last May.

"Since then, Medical Marijuana has been gaining about 1,000 new patients a month," Hill said. "I think we are up to 23,000 or 24,000 patients statewide with the projection that it will go up to 35,000 or 40,000 folks. The industry, in 2018 alone, will make about 70 million dollars in Montana, and of course this is just medical marijuana, it's not recreational or adult use."

Recreational use may come soon though. Hill says she has heard that national marijuana organizations are working to put an initiative on Montana ballots soon.

"I know that they have identified Montana as one of their states," Hill said. "They feel like it would pass with our voters, in fact, in 2016, 55 out of 56 counties all voted for medical marijuana... you know, that's not just Missoula county, that's Petroleum County and Ravalli County. Those folks don't need pharmaceutical companies telling them what to do, so we think that we will see it on the ballot here in 2020."

2020 is expected to be a big year for ballot initiatives generally, as it will also be a presidential election year in which more voters are expected to turn up at the polls.

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