Backers Fight to Get Medical Marijuana on Missouri Ballot

Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – An attorney for supporters of a proposal to allow medical marijuana in Missouri told a judge Monday that enough registered voters signed petitions for it to be placed on the Nov. 8 ballot and that local elections boards wrongly tossed out thousands of signatures.

Attorney Loretta Haggard told Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green that hundreds of signers were improperly labeled as unregistered because they put down the wrong address. She asked that officials count about 170 petitions where signatures were found not to match voter records.

Attorneys for the secretary of state’s office and others trying to keep the measure off the ballot questioned whether those petitions should be counted. Even with those signatures, attorneys said the proposal falls 23 signatures short of the amount needed to make the ballot.

Secretary of State Jason Kander has said the measure was 2,242 short of the needed signatures in a district that includes part of the St. Louis area, and attorneys trying to get it on the ballot turned in evidence for only 2,219 more to be counted by a court deadline last week.

“By my count, judge, they are short,” said Marc Ellinger, an attorney for some prosecutors trying to keep the measure off the ballot.

The group New Approach Missouri and other supporters are asking Green to accept an additional 144 additional petitions signed by voters who they claim are registered in the correct district but who signed a petition for the wrong county. New Approach Missouri found those cases after the Thursday court deadline, and Assistant Attorney General John Hirth, who represents Kander’s office, said they shouldn’t be considered.

Haggard and other attorneys pushing to get the proposal on the ballot said the state law that disqualifies the signatures because of the county mix-ups is unconstitutional.

“Jurisdiction lines often divide up these voters,” attorney Brad Ketcher, who is the treasurer for New Approach Missouri’s campaign, told The Associated Press after court. “But the bottom line is these are registered voters. We shouldn’t leave them behind.”

New Approach Missouri campaign manager John Payne testified that those petitions include some signed by St. Louis-area voters who were confused about where they’re registered to vote.

Payne also told Hirth during questioning in court that at least some of those signed petitions ultimately won’t count because they’re duplicate petitions signed by the same voter.

The proposal at issue would allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes and impose a 4 percent sales tax on medical marijuana sales. The state would set up a licensing program with fees.

The court case will continue Tuesday. Green didn’t indicate when he might rule. Absentee voting begins Sept. 27.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Comments

One Comment

  1. Jim Greer says:

    I do not trust our officials, anyone else ?

  2. Leah LoneBear says:

    The powers that be are doing all they can to stop this because it means the loss of big money for them if it succeeds. Next we have to fight the dirty dozen trying to write law instead of enforce it

    1. Jim Greer says:

      Yes, anyone who can’t see this is either too young or drunk from the Kool-Aid trough. It is disgusting.

  3. Charles J Budde says:

    First of all, stop calling it ‘medical’. No one buys that canard and the concept is ridiculous. Additionally, it is incontrovertible that inhaling burning organic material is a super dumb and not smart thing to do, so don’t. It is pretty clear that marijuana is going to be legitimated everywhere, though I have serious concerns about that idea. Then again, I am still one of those people who think holding a cell phone to your ear while driving is a bad move. I need to hear a lot more about how we are going to convey this to young people. I see, just about every day, people toking it up in Tower Grove park. Children play there. So far as I can tell nothing is done about it and that irks me. There is nothing medical about marijuana. It is about getting high. Let us hear the plan for dealing with and checking for people driving while high, cars and bikes (!). Let us hear how the insurance companies will deal with the consequences of smoking, chewing or enema-izing pot.

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