Skip to main content

Missouri Drive to End Marijuana Prohibition Gets Going [FEATURE]

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #719)
Politics & Advocacy

A Missouri campaign to place an initiative to end marijuana prohibition on the November ballot has entered the signature-gathering phase, and petition-toting volunteers across the Show Me state are hunting for registered voters as the campaign looks for funds to help it get over the top. The effort is off to an enthusiastic start.

"Nearly 500 trained petitioners have now hit the streets," said campaign director and Kansas City area coordinator Amber Langston. "I'm happily overwhelmed with the enormous response we've received since launching our initiative."

The campaign is called Show-Me Cannabis Regulation (SMCR), and was put together by attorney Dan Viets, a long-time marijuana reformer and a member of the national NORML Legal Committee and board of directors, Missouri NORML chapters, and other marijuana legalization advocates and supporters.

The initiative, a constitutional amendment, calls for marijuana legalization for persons 21 and over, a process for licensing marijuana production and sales establishments, and allows the legislature to enact a tax of $100 a pound on retail sales. It also includes a provision lifting criminal justice system sanctions against people imprisoned or under state supervision for nonviolent marijuana offenses that would no longer be illegal and the expunging of all criminal records for such offenses. The initiatives would also allow for the use of marijuana for medical reasons by minors (with parental consent).

Petitioners must obtain the signatures of a number of registered voters equal to 8% of the total votes cast in the 2008 governor's race from six of the state's nine congressional districts. The campaign said that comes out to about 144,000 valid signatures, which means it needs to collect 200,000 or more to have a reasonable margin of comfort. Signatures must be turned in by May 6.

"We just started training volunteers in December, and we've been hitting it hard for the last three weeks," said St. Louis-area campaign coordinator John Payne. "We've gathered about 10,000 signatures already, and we're confident we're on pace to meet our targets," he added.

"It's an all-volunteer effort at this point," but SMCR doesn't intend for it to stay that way, said Payne. "We think we can get this on the ballot for a half a million dollars or so, and then, it's just a matter of getting the right message across."

The campaign doesn't yet have any state-level polling to bolster its case, but plans to do so shortly. In the meantime, it points to last October's Gallup poll, which showed, for the first time in history, a majority of Americans support legalizing cannabis for personal use with 50% in favor nationwide and 54% in the Midwest.

"We've raised a few thousand dollars already and have some funders who will hopefully be putting a fairly large sum of money in our account," Payne said. "We've been operating on a shoe string, but we're gearing up for more. We have an established campaign and a lot to show for what we've done so far on the cheap. If there are any donors out there looking for a good place to invest, they should take a look at us."

The campaign reports no sign of organized opposition at this point, but is casting a wary eye on one of the state's bigger economic interests: the beer brewers.

"We know the beer lobby put up money against Proposition 19. If we see any organized opposition, we expect it to come from the brewers," Payne said. "But if Bud and Busch get involved, we think most people will see through that as self-interested."

The campaign is also keeping an eye on the Missouri Narcotics Officers Association, whose Jason Grellner seems to be the go-to guy on drug issues for the media, including the initiative campaign, said Payne. But maybe law enforcement opposition can be blunted, he suggested.

"Our most effective argument has been the public safety argument -- every minute a police officer spends arresting someone for smoking a joint is a minute not spent on rape or murder or armed robbery," said Payne. "We need to focus our law enforcement resources on more important things; lots of people get that, even if they're not sympathetic."

Economic arguments are also part of the arsenal, Payne said.

"This is a state where we've repeatedly had to cut the budget because of tax shortfalls, and we can show we could be saving about $100 million a year," he explained, citing economist Jeffrey Miron's report on the budgetary implications of prohibition for the states. "That resonates."

Then there are potential tax revenues.  A $100 a pound tax on retail sales could generate not insignificant funds for the state, but some consumers grumble a bit at the prospect, Payne said.

"The potential revenues are a selling point for some people," he said; "for others, it's a bit of a turnoff, but they don't not sign the petitions."

SMCR and its army of volunteers has 14 weeks to get the job done, or to snare major funding to ensure the job gets done. But there's some serious competition for big donor dollars out there. Legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington have already handed in enough signatures to appear set to make the ballot, and there are also legalization initiative campaigns in California, Michigan, and Oregon, as well as a new California medical marijuana initiative.

Can Show-Me Cannabis Regulation show the rest of us how to get it done? Stay tuned.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


carpenter ken (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymouskrj (not verified)

I used to use marijuana when i was a teenager growing up.I even got in trouble for a so called friend selling it to a cop out of my car and did 40 months in prison.I never deserved the radical sentence in which i was so quickly handed because I couldnt afford an attorney.Marijuana is naturally grown and only contains the chemicals in the plant.Cigarettes are natural till they process the tobacco,then they add chemicals for preservation and flavors to increase their addictiveness.Never heard of anyone dying from smoking pot HMMMM! Our forefathers grew marijuana  for paper products ,rope,and yeah to smoke.Im sure they used it for medicanel purposes.Talk about a deficit reducer no more jobs for lazy law enforcement officers to harass innocent people for smoking a plant.So now we have reduced high paying jobs from lawenforcement ,and are taxing sales from marijuana.Letting innocent people out of prison, by the way thats 50,000 dollars a year to keep incarcerated a person.Heres whats weird, I can sell a bag of marijuana and get a ten year sentence but you can kill a person get manslaughter and get seven years.We as the people need to change our goverment.Our goverment is for the goverment and our people stand and wonder why.This would be a great start for us AMERICANS to take back what our fathers and forefathers died for and believed in.If you can use alcohol to relax and socialize you should be able to use marijuana to relax too.Think about how high you got when you smoked your first cigarette.Marijuana is the same way.So why not sell it and tax it like tobacco.Just saying cause this is what I believe in and ive lived the repurcussions of the wrong doing of a goverment based on money and self interest.Not on our rights as Americans based on our constitution and our freedom.

Mon, 01/30/2012 - 10:05am Permalink
cookie (not verified)

In reply to by carpenter ken (not verified)

1st of all  "Marijuana is naturally grown and only contains the chemicals in the plant." is not true. Man has take from one plant and gave to another ,crossed bread,ect,ect. It would be called "DIRT WEED" if that's the case. I'm for making all drugs legal, not just "Mary Jane" but all . If you truly believe in our Constitution and our Bill Of Rights also our Freedom as Americans. Then you would understand why i say that. As long as we single out one drug and say its ok to do and another one is not ok !! Then we are not FREE AMERICANS. So I don't support just one , I SUPPORT ALL DRUGS to be legal . Because then i'm truly FREE AND AMERICAN.

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 1:01pm Permalink
April Johnson (not verified)

In reply to by carpenter ken (not verified)

I too have been a victim of these unjust laws. I was a hard worker with a job for the past 5 years. I was arrested for having 40 grams of weed, lost my job had to go through drug court and had to pay $3000 for a lawyer and $2500 to drug court. Now I am unemployed, not paying taxes and unproductive due to spending half the week in drug treatment and na class-really!!!! The punishment fits the crime, I think not. Also was sanctioned at 30 days because the thc was still present which I could do nothing about. They need to update their cannabis research cause it sucks!
Wed, 07/18/2012 - 7:23pm Permalink
Anonymous1222rf (not verified)

In reply to by Sean M. (not verified)

that is kind of funny cuz im from st louis county and when i was in boone county over the weekend one of the petetioners came up to me at a party and i asked to sign and he said i had to be registered in boone so i couldnt sign it

Fri, 01/27/2012 - 11:37pm Permalink
maryjanesuncle (not verified)

  40 years, one trillion dollars and a million arrests..its time to stop the insane practice of punishing people for enjoying a nonlethal, non habit forming herb, that has less heath issues than cigs or liquor..Stand Up Springfield Mo and sign the petition for a better world.

Fri, 01/27/2012 - 8:14pm Permalink
Anonymous122222 (not verified)

Folks who wish to sign the petition need to go to Dan Viets' office at 15 North 10th Street in Columbia (directly above Aardvarx). You must be registered to vote and not on probation or parole.  Please hurry! Time is short

Fri, 01/27/2012 - 9:06pm Permalink
Anonymous1234567890 (not verified)

cape county has quite a few signatures along with scott county and other southern areas of the state get that petition down this way and i think it will be successful!!!!!!!!

Fri, 01/27/2012 - 10:55pm Permalink
Aaaaanonymous (not verified)

Where do u go in reynolds, iron, dent and st francios counties have friends and family in all those counties who would love to sign.

Sat, 01/28/2012 - 2:54am Permalink
Paul Pot (not verified)

Initiatives planed for six states so far with a good chance of success, three presidential hopefuls calling for an end to prohibition, an election in Mexico as well. Media interest will reach an all time high. 2012 is the year of drug war reform.

Sat, 01/28/2012 - 10:14am Permalink
Josephine Storms (not verified)

where do we go here in newton and Jasper county? i know of about 1000 people who would love to sign here in the Joplin Neosho area.

Sat, 01/28/2012 - 4:37pm Permalink
Phanes (not verified)

$6.25 an ounce for a tax is not terribly unreasonable as long as its legal status drops the retail price (without tax) down to about $15 or so.  If prohibition is what makes cannabis so disgustingly expensive, then the end of prohibition better come with a 90% drop in price.

Sun, 01/29/2012 - 6:33am Permalink
King Pothead (not verified)

If this initiative gets on the ballot and Anheuser-Busch (or Inbev or whatever they are calling themselves now) puts up money to oppose it, then legalization supporters need to boycott A-B and all the third-rate pisswater products they call beer (Budweiser, Bud Lt, Busch, Michelob, etc.).   Why support a company that is fighting against your own interests? 

Thu, 02/02/2012 - 4:31pm Permalink
cookie (not verified)

Go To Guy can suck this.... He is the most worthless pig of all . Breaking your right opening doors with out your consent. Hes a piece of sh*t.

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 12:40pm Permalink
smittyy (not verified)

i live in chillicothe , mo. i am disabeled and cant get out of home.i am 62 years old and would be proud to sign this petition.i could collect registered voters to come to my home.jusy all the ones i know and i know a lot.

                           if i can help let me know,

                             if i cant help i still want to sign up.lets go mo.

   the first legal beer was sold out of missouri  budweiser after prohibition

                 lets be FIRST AGAIN!!!









Sun, 02/05/2012 - 5:08am Permalink
Blake94 (not verified)

I feel that the legalization of marijuana would be BENEFICIAL to ANY ECONOMY and to the QUALITY of EVERY CONSUMERS' LIVES. Why wouldn't a perfectly natural plant be made legal? Not only is it natural but it has a WIDE VARIETY of  MEDICINAL USES as well. I am a recreational user but when I am stressed out or in pain not only is THE PERFECT MEDICINE but it feels much HEALTHIER and NATURAL to smoke a bowl or joint or whatever smoking device you prefer to use to relive yourself of whatever problems you have whether it be a physical or emotional condition. COME ON MISSOURI, LET'S MAKE THIS HAPPEN TOGETHER!


Thu, 04/26/2012 - 10:45am Permalink
joplin mo resident (not verified)

we need to know where to go to vote people. i know its too late now. but give us a freaking place to go next time. i know hundreads!
Mon, 01/26/2015 - 3:26am Permalink

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.