Born in Lexington, Missouri, home of the Civil War clash known as the “Battle of the Hemp Bales” and starting my political activism career during my college years at the University of Missouri-Columbia, I was definitely pulling for New Approach Missouri to qualify a medical cannabis measure for the November 2016 ballot. I once served on the board of Show-Me Cannabis and helped draft some early versions of the proposed medical marijuana initiative. Unfortunately, New Approach Missouri’s effort fell just short.
Unlike other states, Missouri requires that so many signatures must be collected from at least two-thirds of the state’s congressional districts. Since there are eight congressional districts, sufficient signatures must be collected from six of them. Advocates were initially just over two thousand short in one congressional district.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports:
An initiative to legalize medical marijuana won’t go before voters in November, after Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green decided Tuesday that local election authorities were right to toss out thousands of the petition’s signatures.
New Approach Missouri spokesman Jack Cardetti said that though a final ruling is expected as early as Wednesday, the group won’t have enough time to appeal before Sept. 27, the deadline to get on the ballot.
“We are proud of the work we have done educating the public about this important medical issue, and feel confident that we have laid the groundwork for the inevitable passage of medical marijuana in Missouri,” Cardetti said in a statement. “While delayed, our work is not yet done, and we will fight for these patients until they and their doctors are put back in charge of their medical treatment options.”
Helping lead a few initiative petition drives, I have felt first-hand the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. I feel so sorry for the hard-working activists that shed their blood, sweat and tears to place a statewide medical marijuana measure before Missouri voters. Of course, this is most painful for thousands of patients that would have benefitted from the use of medicinal cannabis.
Despite the understandable pain that folks in Missouri are experiencing now, I hope that advocates understand that their efforts are not all in vain. By talking to thousands of Missouri voters across the state and increasing the visibility of the issue, there is now a very strong foundation for future success. Voters in Columbia, Missouri, rejected a decriminalization attempt in 2003, but then passed a reform measure the following year. I definitely see Missouri activists rising from this disappointment to achieve victory in the near future.
Polling looks great in the Show-Me State and the New Approach Missouri effort generated tremendous media attention and pulled in support from across the political spectrum. This setback is only temporary and I have faith that medical cannabis and cannabis legalization will be coming to Missouri in the very near future.