Missouri Judge Spurns Cannabis Prohibitionists' Push To Remove Marijuana Legalization From Ballot

A judge with the Missouri Circuit Court of Cole County dismissed a lawsuit on Friday that sought to overturn the initiative from Legal Missouri 2022 to place a recreational cannabis legalization petition on the November ballot, reported Marijuana Moment.

The decision from Judge Cotton Walker follows a court hearing held on Thursday, during which arguments from Joy Sweeney, a local anti-legalization activist backed by the Colorado-based Protect Our Kids PAC who filed the suit, were laid out.

The court dismissed the case due to the plaintiff's failure to "prove an essential element of her cause of action," referring to her claim that she was a resident of Jefferson City.

Had it not been dismissed on procedural grounds, the decision regarding the case would be in favor of the legalization campaign on all counts, the judge said.

"This Court would have therefore dismissed the Petition and assessed costs against Plaintiff if it had ruled on the merits in this case," the ruling said.


The lawsuit argued that the petition was improperly certified by Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft last month. That move formally placed the initiative from Legal Missouri 2022 on the November ballot.

Moreover, the suit claimed that the measure's language is not in accordance with the state Constitution, citing a violation of single-subject rules and that the initiative lacked sufficient signatures to be placed before voters.

John Payne, Legal Missouri 2022 campaign manager, said earlier they turned in nearly 400,000 signatures from Missourians willing to see cannabis legal.

He called the court's ruling "another step towards the historic passage of this citizen-led initiative to regulate, tax and legalize marijuana in Missouri, while automatically expunging past, nonviolent marijuana offenses from Missourians' records."

However, cannabis prohibitionists remain ready to push back as they plan to appeal the ruling.

"We are appealing this ruling because it appears the judge and secretary of state are ignoring their own records, which show Joy Sweeney as a resident and voter," Luke Niforatos, CEO of Protect Our Kids, told Marijuana Moment. "This process, rife with the appearance of corruption from the start, continues to arouse suspicion as to the secretary of state office's role in validating this petition. We expect a full hearing on appeal and a more proper judgment."

Legal Missouri 2022 Initiative

The proposed measure would allow adults 21 and older to possess (up to three ounces), purchase (from licensed retailers) and home-grow up to six flowering plants, six immature plants, and six clones. It also establishes a program to automatically review and expunge those with criminal records for nonviolent marijuana-related marijuana offenses.

If the initiative passes in November, Missouri would set a precedent as the first state where voters initiated the automatic expungement of prior marijuana convictions.

Photo: Courtesy of gguy by Shutterstock and Kindel Media by Pixabay

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Posted In: CannabisNewsPoliticsLegalMarketsGeneralcannabis legalizationCotton WalkerJohn PaynelawsuitMissouriRecreational Marijuana
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