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Missouri Marijuana Legalization Initiative Postponed Until 2016 Election


missouri show me cannabis 2016 electionBy John Payne

The poll we commissioned to assess the viability of a legalization campaign in 2014 has been completed, and it indicates that we would be wise to wait for the presidential election in 2016 to launch an initiative campaign. Among likely 2014 voters, 45 percent said that they would vote in favor of our proposal, and 51 percent said they would vote against it.

The 2014 election in Missouri is expected to have a very low turnout because not only is there no presidential race, but there are no contests for governor or U.S. Senator. In fact, the only statewide office up for a vote this November is state auditor, which will not drive many people to vote. Consequently, the electorate this year will be comprised almost entirely by people who vote in every election.

And, unfortunately, many of the demographic groups who tend to support cannabis law reform — such as voters under 35 and political independents — are less likely to vote than demographics who tend to oppose reform, especially voters over 65. It appears that phenomenon has a large impact on the level of support we can expect on Election Day, because when we re-weight the results for the expected turnout in 2016, the numbers basically flip, with 52 percent favoring a legalization proposal.

That is, of course, a majority, which is encouraging. However, it’s not a strong majority, which means that we must continue building public support for reform, so that when we start preparing for a 2016 initiative campaign early next year, we will have support at least in the mid to high 50-s.

I will be working with our board of directors, financial contributors, and volunteers over the next few weeks to formulate a strategy to reach that goal, and once it is approved, I will share the specifics in this newsletter. But, broadly speaking, I believe we will be focusing our efforts in three areas:

Greater push for reform in Jefferson City. We have a larger presence than ever at the Capitol, and I believe there is a good chance that the legislature will vote to reduce penalties on cannabis possession this year. Industrial hemp and medical cannabis are also garnering more legislative interest than in years past, and we could see some progress on those fronts, but passing either will be an uphill battle.

We will continue to engage the public and build our base of supporters through our town hall meetings across the state. To that end, we have our meeting in Kirksville this Thursday and a newly confirmed meeting in Union on Tuesday, March 18. (More details on both in the events section.)

Targeted media with tested messaging. Part of the polling looked at what messages have the broadest appeal and which demographic groups find them the most compelling. We can use that information to create editorials, flyers, and advertisements that will most efficiently raise public support for our cause.

I know that many of you were eager to end cannabis prohibition in Missouri this year, and it’s disappointing to find out that we will have to — again — practice patience and wait for another election cycle. Trust me, I understand the feeling.

But I think we should always keep the bigger picture in mind. The struggle to end cannabis prohibition has been fought for over 40 years, and until very recently most people viewed cannabis law reformers as quixotic at best and, far more often, as downright malicious.

I first got heavily involved in this movement when I was in college in the very early part of this millennium, and I distinctly remember the 2002 campaign to legalize cannabis in Nevada. It was the first political campaign that I ever contributed to financially. Even though I was making $7.00 an hour, I gave several hundred dollars to the effort that summer. I really thought the good guys might win.

On Election Day, the measure was defeated by over 20 points, 61 percent to 39. It was devastating. I knew that the odds were stacked against us, but the magnitude of the loss was hard to contemplate.

Just about a week later, Students for a Sensible Drug Policy held its national conference in Anaheim, and I attended as part of the delegation from Washington University in Saint Louis. The first day seemed to be almost nothing but discussion of how and why voters rejected legalization in Nevada — one dispiriting panel after another.

Then, during the lunch session on Saturday, Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance took the stage, and I don’t think he said a word about the election results. Instead, he launched into an explanation of all the evils of prohibition and the drug war: The people serving years in prison for non-violent offenses, the Constitutional rights trampled every day in service of a totally ineffectual policy, the patients being denied medicine by a politically driven medical policy.

A dozen years later, and that speech still sticks with me, because he reminded us why we were all there in the first place. We were fighting against the drug war because it was the right thing to do. It didn’t matter if we were doomed to fail for all eternity, because it was better to stand up and fight such a tremendous moral evil than to acquiesce to it.

None of us had any real idea of when or if we would be successful in ending cannabis prohibition anywhere. The finish line not only wasn’t in sight, it actually seemed to be disappearing completely as the federal government argued that cannabis users supported terrorism.

But we weren’t going to back down. We knew what was right, and we would fight for it, win or lose.

And that is what I am asking you to do now: Keep fighting even though the finish line is a little farther away than we had hoped. You can ensure that we are able to sustain the fight for freedom by signing up as a monthly contributor now!

Even a relatively modest contribution of $20 a month will have a major impact over the course of the next two years. The fight is far from over, but if people like you do not take a stand now, it could go on indefinitely. Will you do your part to change Missouri and the world by pledging $20 a month now?

The road ahead of us is long and arduous, but so it is with any worthwhile endeavor. As one of my favorite American revolutionaries wrote (and which I am sure I have quoted here before): “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

Source: National Cannabis Coalitionmake a donation


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Johnny Green


  1. Intergalactic Pimp on

    John Payne,

    I would like to apologize. While my post here, I’m sure, wasn’t as nasty as some of the personal messages you spoke of on FB, I should have handled myself differently. While I am bummed out, I get it. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that we don’t see, nor understand, because we’re not in the trenches like you.

    It’s a topic myself, and so many others, feel so passionately about, and I let my disappointment get the best of me.

    I support SMC wholeheartedly and appreciate everything you are doing. It’s not easy, I’m sure. Keep fighting the good fight, and thanks for helping to bring us to where we currently are with educating Missouri about cannabis.


  2. Scammers For Sale — Only $1 each — Hurry! While supplies last!
    (Just because you have a nice-looking bud, it doesn’t mean you are exempt from scammer hell.)

  3. Trying to describe the state of Missouri is very difficult to do in a few sentences, it has always been a fascinating state for me, having visited it many times and always enjoyed its geographical uniqueness. If Missouri does one day – even if it is in 2016 – vote to legalize Marijuana, it would be a very awesome situation, because there is a distinct vibe there that Missouri has which appeals to me – part geography & part cultural. This vibe carries over a bit into Southern Illinois, Western Kentucky, and even parts of Northern Arkansas. Those areas can be very beautiful and to be able to live free in a legal marijuana environment without fear and paranoia would be a beautiful thing. Spread that vibe into parts of Northeast Oklahoma and Western Tennessee, and you´ve got yourself a nice movement going there. I think if we can galvanize as many people as possible to fight together towards a great cause, we can change the whole nation and lead the world.

  4. I was thinking about a shirt that says something like “Grow” or “Grow Your Own.” But for a woman, that shirt might be a little suggestive (especially considering that, from somewhere under that t-shirt, it might appear that I really expected that to somehow… happen).

  5. Joseph OnaMission Colvin on

    I believe if you expect a miracle you will have it indeed. Have much awesomeness and please check the new resources that have become available.

  6. Today is… Pretend You’re a Scammer Day! I mean, if scammers get to post with impunity, I think I should have the freedom to do the same — of course, my posts aren’t about scams, they’re about entertainment.

    So, here’s the song “Cough Syrup” (aka Life’s Too Short to Even Care at All), by Young the Giant. Enjoy!


  7. Intergalactic Pimp on

    Well that sucks. Very disappointing. I think they should go through with it anyway. Even if it didn’t pass the first time, I’m sure it wouldn’t fail by a large margin, if it even would fail, because it sends a message to Missouri that nearly a majority here want reform and we’re not backing down. I think prohibitionists would view this as a “win”.

    Secondly, I don’t agree completely with ‘not enough under 35 voters will vote’. I personally think it being on the ballot would motivate those folks. And I think the numerous states that will be voting on this issue just fuels the fire. We have great momentum going nation wide; the time is NOW!

  8. So really what he is saying is let’s wait 2 more years and in that time give me more money to support the cause… very disappointing…

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