Just last week we had our hopes up that the ballot initiative created by New Approach Missouri would get to be seen and decided on by Missouri voters – but that hope ended this week when Cole County Circuit Judge Green sided with the election board when it came to disqualifying over 10,000 signatures. The group had come close, with all but 2,242 signatures according to the secretary of state’s office – but unfortunately the judge upheld a law that requires all valid signatures be signed to a petition with the correct county at the top (due to a requirement that a certain percentage of voters from every county sign the petition) and many of their signatures were from registered voters but signed under the wrong county.
The original 170 petitions that New Approach Marijuana asked them to include would have contained enough valid signatures to bring them all but 23 shy of what they needed. They had hopes that the judge may allow them to also count an additional 144 petitions where the signatures were not always under the correct county, but these were found after the initial period to gather evidence and were not allowed to be counted, resulting in the ruling by Judge Green. Due to the lack of time left before absentee voting begins, the group does not plan to appeal the decision.
If it had been allowed on the ballot, the initiative would have allowed physicians to recommend medical marijuana to patients with conditions like Alzheimer’s, cancer, epilepsy, post traumatic stress disorder and more. It also would have imposed licensing fees and a 4% sales tax that would be used first to cover the administrative costs of the program and any remaining funds would have gone to helping veterans with their medical care and nursing home costs.
“Due to the judge’s ruling that signatures collected on the wrong county petition pages would not be accepted as valid we were found to be short of the minimum required number of signatures,” Winters wrote in the post. “I am so incredibly sorry that we weren’t yet able to deliver the outcome that so many are counting on us for. We are all still here and 2018 is right around the corner. This fight isn’t yet done, not by a long shot.”
While 2016 may not be the year for medical marijuana in Missouri, the group has clearly not given up hope yet. They are already talking about the 2018 election – and they certainly have plenty of time to start over and gather far more than the needed number of signatures (and perhaps hold a few more hands through the process of filling out petitions in order to ensure signatures appear under the correct county next time around). It is a disappointing defeat, but the group seems sure to come back stronger and more prepared for another go around.