May 19, 2012 1:43 PM by Marnee Banks (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Helena Mayor Jim Smith has spoken out on the subject of marijuana, saying on Thursday that the drug should be legalized.
Smith sat on a panel on Thursday evening after screening a new medical marijuana documentary called "Code of the West."
He was joined by filmmaker Rebecca Cohen and several politicians.
Smith surprised the audience by pulling out a bumper sticker that read "Legalize/Regulate/Tax" and announcing that he supports legalizing the plant; his statement drew applause from the audience.
Smith told KXLH on Friday, "The federal government needs to do something and I think what it needs to do is legalize, regulate, and tax the substance. Treat it just like we treat alcohol and tobacco. Take all reasonable steps and precautions to keep it away from kids and youth. But treat it as an adult substance, which is what it is and how it's being used by millions of people in the country."
Smith says the issue of marijuana is dividing Montanans and it shouldn't.
He says he believes there is very little that states and cities can do to address the issue.
About a year ago the City of Helena looked at zoning for medical marijuana businesses; Smith says that commissioners decided it wasn't their place to step in, and he hopes that will continue to be the case.