Legalization Opponents Sue To Block Initiative From Missouri Ballot

A coalition of groups opposed to drug reform efforts filed a lawsuit to block an initiative to legalize recreational cannabis from the ballot in Missouri, saying the measure failed to meet constitutional requirements and required sufficient petition signatures. Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft earlier this month approved an initiative to legalize marijuana for adults and allow commercial cannabis activities.

John Payne, a spokesman for Legal Missouri, which is sponsoring the legalization effort, said it was the only initiative to get the public backing it needed to collect enough signatures to qualify for the vote. Stated.

“This lawsuit has no merit and in three months Missouri will become the 20th state to regulate, tax and legalize cannabis.” Payne said.

The lawsuit was filed on August 19 on behalf of Joy Sweeney, a resident of Jefferson, Missouri, and deputy director of training, technical assistance, and community outreach for the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America. It aims to prevent substance use and abuse. The lawsuit is also backed by Protect Our Kids PAC, a Colorado-based super PAC that opposes drug policy reform efforts.

Protect Our Kids PAC CEO Luke Niforatos said in a statement, “Not only is it misleading voters about the harm of legalization, but it violates state law and the Missouri Constitution.” “We hope the courts will quickly rule on this matter so that Missouri children are not targeted by marijuana on a large scale.”

Jodon Cheney, a spokesman for the Office of the Missouri Secretary of State, said the office had not been formally served with the lawsuit and could not comment on the details of the lawsuit. He added that the total number and certification process “speak for themselves.”

“The individuals responsible for submitting this (the petition for the initiative) met the constitutional requirements required by law, and Secretary Ashcroft approved Amendment 3 to the ballot,” Cheney said. rice field. “The secretary is following the law, fulfilling his statutory duties, and upholding his certification.”

To be eligible to vote in Missouri, the initiative campaign must have sufficient numbers to match at least 8% of the votes cast in the 2020 gubernatorial election in at least six of the state’s eight congressional districts. signatures must be collected from registered voters. Supporters of the lawsuit point out that an unofficial tally of petition signatures done by local election officials last month showed the campaign fell short with 2,275 signatures. After requesting a review of the total by the Office of the Secretary of State, officials determined that the campaign had collected enough signatures, and Ashcroft approved the petition for the November ballot on August 9.

The lawsuit alleges that Ashcroft “authenticated and counted the signatures marked by local election officials. Without this action, the Marijuana Initiative’s petition would not have had sufficient numbers in six of the eight congressional districts.” would not have had the valid signature of The lawsuit notes that the signature counts and voter rolls required under Missouri’s public records law have not been provided to plaintiffs.

The lawsuit also alleges that the Marijuana Legalization Initiative failed to comply with the requirement that a ballot measure cover only one subject. , “not to contain more than one amended and revised article of this Constitution or one new article which does not contain more than one subject and matters properly related thereto”.

The lawsuit filed in court said the initiative would not only legalize recreational marijuana, but also criminalize the possession of cannabis in excess of legal limits, create a process to license marijuana growers, and set tax guidelines. set and create a new position to “preferentially” oversee licensing. Establish a system for expunging past marijuana convictions by demonstrating grounds.

Under Missouri law, lawsuits are filed in court records so they can be heard and decided quickly.

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