Local election authorities kicked out about 10,700 signatures collected from a group trying to put a medical marijuana question on the November ballot. Jack Cardetti with New Approach Missouri, which gathered the signatures, says it will file a lawsuit to try and recover some of those signatures deemed invalid.
Cardetti says attempts to overturn invalidated petition signatures have happened numerous times.
“In 2010, the Missouri Realtors were supporting a ballot initiative. It was initially not certified. They went to court and pursued the same signature recovery lawsuit and they were put back on the ballot. In 2008, a renewable energy standard faced the same exact path and made it on the ballot. In both 2002 and 2006, a tobacco tax initiative was originally struck and sued to get back on the ballot,” says Cardetti.
“What courts have said throughout the last decade is that they really want voters to be making the final decision, not local election authorities or government bureaucrats. We feel very strongly that we have enough signatures there and the court will overturn those invalidated signatures.”
The group is short about 2,200 signatures in a congressional district that includes the St. Louis area.
“Sometimes through no fault of their own and no malice, they (election authority officials) get those wrong. That’s why we’re going to have the court review those signatures,” says Cardetti.
The measure would allow doctors to approve the drug for use by cancer, epilepsy, PTSD, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and spinal cord injury patients.
Cardetti says the measure includes safeguards so that patients prescribed the drug can’t sell it on the black or grey markets. Cardetti says a seed-to-sale computerized tracking system would be included and the Missouri Department of Health would have access to it.
Brandon Costerison with the National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse in St. Louis opposes the lawsuit.
“By trying to bypass these constitutional requirements, is really trying to bypass Missouri voters,” says Costerison.
Costerison says there could be some medical benefits to marijuana, but he says New Approach Missouri’s effort isn’t a true medical program.
“It sets up a de facto legalization where anyone can go to the doctor and get access to cheap, potent marijuana,” says Costerison.
The measure includes a 4% tax on marijuana to help fund veteran healthcare services. The State Auditor’s office estimates that the tax could generate about $20 million annually.
Costerison thinks the tax would be setting a dangerous precedent.
“If we’re going to look at this as medicine, in Missouri we don’t tax medicine. We don’t add taxes for people who are sick. In doing so is essentially a bribe to get people to vote for this,” says Costerison.
There are 25 states that have medical marijuana laws.