By: Cecil King
Missouri Medical Marijuana Initiative Fails Certification
Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander announced August 9, 2016 the medical marijuana initiative failed to make the November 2016 ballot.
The constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, version 6, 2016-135, failed to obtain enough valid signatures in one of six required congressional districts.
Election officials invalidated 10,650 signatures in Congressional District 2, which includes parts of Jefferson, St. Charles and St. Louis counties. A total of 40,745 signatures submitted for District 2 yielded 30,095 valid signatures. This left a shortage of 2,242 signatures below the required 32,337 signatures.
“Later this month, we will ask the courts in Missouri to overturn some of these invalidated signatures, so this initiative can appear on the November ballot,” offered Jack Cardetti, New Approach Missouri spokesman.
New Approach Missouri (NAM) is the campaign committee sponsoring Missouri’s 2016 medical marijuana initiative.
On their website in a statement, NAM said they don’t believe the local election authorities in this district unnecessarily invalidated these signatures out of malice. Overworked staff and temporary employees could have made the errors.
Congressional District 2 has some of the most affluent counties in the state of Missouri. Median family incomes in St. Louis county are $61,680 with the highest per capita income in the state of Missouri at $49,727. It is home to the eighth-strongest market for technology hiring, and the world’s largest concentration of plant science Ph.D.’s.
These demographics represent a labor pool that would be essential in building a new legalized cannabis agribusiness industry in Missouri. Bio-tech scientists, chemists, agronomists and biology professionals will provide the innovation necessary for the nationwide cannabis industry to grow.
Election officials in other states have aggressively invalidated legitimate signatures for legalized cannabis initiatives. Cannabis activists in the state of Maine went to court to overturn 17,000 disputed petitions which initially disqualified their initiative from appearing on the November ballot. They won their lawsuit and voters will now decide to allow recreational cannabis sales in their state at the voting booth.
Local NORML members have noted that in past initiative campaigns, “if a signature checker found just one questionable signature on a petition sheet, they might throw out the entire sheet” without checking the remaining signatures for validity. This had the effect of invalidating up to 10 signatures at a time.
Some of the invalidated signatures may have resulted from misunderstood instructions or signers simply not paying attention to where you sign.
The Missouri petition layout is counter-intuitive. Most commercial contracts, credit card apps and other official contractual documents would have you fill out all of your identifying information first and then confirm that information with a required signature as the last step. Missouri requires a signature in the first box.
Whatever anomalies that exist on the submitted petitions, it is in Missouri voters’ best interest for election authorities to take another closer look. Polling numbers favor the medical marijuana petition from 62% (Public Policy Polling) up to 66% (Marijuana Policy Project).