Anthony Varriano is a 29-year-old man from Glendive, Montana who is biking across the state to gather signatures for a ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana. Surprisingly, the initiative’s incentive and Varriano’s motivation to bike 1,600 miles aren't smoking related. Closely watching the legalization success of both Colorado and Washington, Varriano strongly believes that the revenue from taxed cannabis sales would make a considerable difference for the Montana and its residents.
“Our schools are suffering. I know Glendive’s superintendent went out to Minnesota recently to recruit teachers and he came back saying none of them were interested in coming here,” he told local news. Varriano, like many politicians, is enticed by the income legalized states have procured, but most importantly, he foresees the positive changes a large amount of additional money could facilitate; the revenue could raise teachers’ salaries and, with more money to offer, could help attract educators from out of state. However, like many political controversies, the initiative has received both support and opposition from Montanans.
Steve Zabawa, also a Montana-based car salesman, went through a similar process of collecting signatures for an initiative of the opposite end which campaigns to ban all use of cannabis within the state. Zabawa opposes decriminalization, believing any form of cannabis use or possession warrants criminal punishment.
Both Zabawa and Varriano, with polar goals, must amass 50,000 signatures for their initiative to appear on the 2016 ballot. If you live in Montana, we encourage you to look out for Varriano as he bikes through town and consider signing. For those located elsewhere that still wish to support the cause, Varriano has created a GoFundMe profile to raise a $1,000 for his 50 day trip.