Missouri Medical Marijuana Backers to Challenge Invalid Signatures in Court
A proposed ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana in Missouri narrowly missed qualifying for the ballot. On Monday, supporters announced that they will be launching a lawsuit seeking to have some invalidated signatures overturned in the state’s largest district, in the hopes of making the November ballot.
“The citizens overwhelmingly want Missouri to be the 26th state to allow state licensed physicians to recommend medical marijuana to patients with debilitating illnesses.” – Jack Cardetti, New Approach Missouri
New Approach Missouri, the organization behind the signature drive, were confident they had collected more than enough signatures to place the measure before voters. However, in the state’s largest congressional district — which includes parts of Jefferson, St. Charles, and St. Louis counties — election officials invalidated approximately 10,700 of the signatures collected. This left the campaign nearly 2,200 short of the 32,337 signatures that were needed in that district.
In order to appear on the November ballot in Missouri, backers need to collect at least 157,788 valid signatures. Missouri law also requires that signatures be obtained from registered voters equal to 8 percent of the total votes cast in the most recent governor’s election from 6 of the state’s 8 congressional districts.
“The citizens overwhelmingly want Missouri to be the 26th state to allow state licensed physicians to recommend medical marijuana to patients with debilitating illnesses,” said Jack Cardetti, New Approach Missouri spokesman. “Later this month, we will ask the courts in Missouri to overturn some of these invalidated signatures, so that this initiative can appear on the November ballot, and more importantly patients suffering from everything from cancer to epilepsy will finally have another treatment option. Courts have long held in Missouri that they want voters to make these final decisions.”
Proposal Could Create a Comprehensive MMJ Program in the South
In a blog post Monday, campaign manager Johnathan Payne wrote that the likely cause of the invalidated signatures were caused by human error in the validation process.
“We don’t believe the local election authorities in this district unnecessarily invalidated these signatures out of malice, but rather the errors were made by overworked staff and temporary employees that are brought in to handle the validation process for this year’s five initiative petitions,” said Payne.
If the court challenge is successful and the measure is placed before Missouri voters in the fall, recent polling suggests it is likely to pass. A survey conducted by Public Policy Polling in June found that 62% of Missouri voters support the measure, with only 27% opposed.
New Approach Missouri’s proposal would create a comprehensive medical marijuana program in the south. It would allow doctors in Missouri to recommend cannabis therapy to patients suffering from cancer, epilepsy, PTSD, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, spinal-cord injuries and other serious or debilitating medical conditions.
Medical marijuana growers and dispensaries would be regulated by the state, with sales at dispensaries subject to a 4% tax. The estimated $20 million in annual tax revenue from medical marijuana sales would be earmarked to provide health care services to veterans.
New Approach Missouri is the campaign to legalize medical marijuana in Missouri. It’s time to let doctors decide what’s best for patients – because providing medicine shouldn’t be a crime.