Mo: Group works to legalize marijuana

mapinc / 7/20/2011 / By Kim Norvell, Source:St. Joseph News-Press

A petition filed with the Missouri secretary of state’s office could be the first step toward the legalization of marijuana if it garners enough support.

Show-Me Cannabis is an initiative organized by a group of Missourians and businesses that believe marijuana prohibition is a failed policy and seek to legalize all forms of marijuana in the state. Local law enforcement, however, sees loopholes that are not written into the petition in regard to enforcement and punishment for those breaking the suggested new laws.

Two petitions were filed with the secretary of state early this month, one of which would amend Missouri’s constitution, while the other would suggest a change in statutes, said Amber Langston, campaign director of Show-Me Cannabis. If approved, organizers can begin to gather enough valid signatures =AD 147,000 for a constitutional amendment or 92,000 for a statutory amendment =AD before it can appear on the November 2012 ballot. Ms. Langston said Show-Me Cannabis expects the change would find more support from the voters than from politicians who would be asked to sponsor a bill.

I think most politicians are still living in that `Reefer Madness mindset, which most of us are coming to the conclusion that was simply propaganda,=94 she said. =93As a society we’re still trying to sort out the facts, but those who have stepped out in favor of it have found pretty good support.=94

Show-Me Cannabis suggests Missouri voters approve marijuana regulation that is similar to alcohol regulation. Users would have to be 21 or over, anyone looking to sell marijuana would need a license, and any marijuana grown for personal use would be limited to a 10 foot by 10 foot plot. There is also wording that allows medical marijuana to be prescribed by doctors and agricultural hemp to be cultivated by farmers.

The initiative also suggests releasing all inmates who have previously been convicted of marijuana possession or distribution.

Lt. Steve Gumm, of the Buchanan County Drug Strike Force, said although Show-Me Cannabis has decided to classify misbehavior as a Class A misdemeanor, they didn’t take into account regulations for personal consumption, including a specific amount any one person can grow in the suggested 10 by 10 plot and how many of those plots a person can own.

There would still need to be laws to control it,=94 Mr. Gumm said. =93If you can grow your own, there’s no way it can be regulated for how it’s grown or where it=92s being sold. =94

Mr. Gumm said, just like liquor enforcement, it would also be difficult to enforce marijuana use by persons under 21. Citing marijuana as a =93gateway drug,=94 Mr. Gumm said he would also expect to see more =93hard drug use=94 if the plant is legalized.

Six News-Press readers answered a Facebook question on whether they would support cannabis legalization. Two expressed disappointment in the petition. The others said it would be beneficial for the state to tax the substance ( Show-Me Cannabis suggests $100 per pound ) and beneficial for officers to focus on more =93serious=94 crimes.

MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart