Sixteen states, as well as the District of Columbia, have legalized the use of medical marijuana. A statewide group is looking to take it a step further, however, and legalize all marijuana use in Missouri.

A group of about 65 volunteers have been hitting the streets in St. Joseph, looking for supporters of Show-Me Cannabis, an association that seeks to legalize and regulate marijuana use in the state. Missouri’s Secretary of State requires 150,000 signatures on a statewide petition by May 6 in order for a legalization measure to appear on November’s ballot.

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Amber Langston, campaign director for Show-Me Cannabis, said they have about 12,000 signatures from across the state on hand, but expect there are more signatures that volunteers have yet to turn in.

“We have around 1,000 petitioners, and we just launched an online volunteer training, so we anticipate things to continue to ramp up,” she said.

Bart Brower, field director in St. Joseph, said the group of local volunteers meets at the East Hills Library every Saturday to discuss the initiative and to strategize ways to garner support.

Those volunteers range from people 18 years old to 60; Mr. Brower himself is 45 and does not smoke cannabis, he said. He’s also seen a range of supporters, from college kids to an elderly woman who said she would support legalization if marijuana would help her arthritis.

“This is not the stereotypical hippie movement any more,” he said. “People are ready for change.”

Their weekly meetings are also educational opportunities for volunteers, as well as for the public. On Saturday, Betty Taylor, the former police chief in Winfield, Mo., discussed her view of marijuana prohibition, as well as that of the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, of which she is a member.

“We’ve had 40 years to prove that the war on drugs has succeeded, and it hasn’t; it’s failed. Miserably,” she said.

Ms. Taylor, who is now a professor of criminal justice, said law enforcement should be focusing on other, more violent crimes, such as rape and murder. She said she teaches her students that marijuana was made illegal through fear-mongering, but the drug has not proved to be an initiator of violence in the 70 years it has been illegal.

A representative from the Buchanan County Drug Strike Force could not be reached for comment on the initiative. However, the Drug Enforcement Administration has released several papers on its view on marijuana legalization.

“Drug abuse, and this nation’s response to it, is one of the most important and potentially dangerous issues facing American citizens – and especially its youth – today,” says one of its papers, “Speaking Out Against Drug Legalization.”

The DEA presents its top 10 facts on legalization, the first stating that the War on Drugs has caused overall drug use to decrease by more than a third in the last 20 years.

Additionally, the paper argues that drug prevention needs to have a balance of enforcement and treatment for it to be successful and that, unless enforced, drug use and violence will continue to go hand in hand.

The Show-Me Cannabis initiative 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-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.

Marijuana would also be taxed like alcohol and cigarettes – in the case of cannabis the group suggests $100 per pound – which would create additional income for Missouri, supporters say.

The Show-Me Cannabis initiative meets at East Hills Library every Saturday between 2 and 4 p.m., and is looking for volunteers or donations.

News Hawk – 420 Warrior 420 MAGAZINE
Location: St. Joseph, MO
Source: St. Joseph News-Press
Author: Kim Norvell
Contact: [email protected]
Copyright: 2012 The News-Press, St. Joseph, Missouri
Website: www.newspressnow.com