JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The legalization of medical marijuana will not be on the ballot this November.
While an official ruling has yet to come down, supporters of New Approach Missouri’s initiative petition case do not sound optimistic about the outcome after Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green ruled in favor of Secretary of State Jason Kander Tuesday that election authorities had not erred in invalidating 11,000 signatures from New Approach’s effort.
New Approach collected enough signatures and submitted their petition in time, but election authorities invalidated roughly 11,000 signatures from the 2nd Congressional District, made up of parts of Jefferson, St. Louis and St. Charles Counties. With those 11,000 cast aside, it left the IP just over 2,200 signatures short in that area.
New Approach has successfully argued in court Monday to revalidate almost the number of signatures it needed, but they fell 23 signatures short of qualifying for the ballot. Additionally, Green ruled that signatures collected on incorrect county petition pages should not be considered valid.
Jack Cardetti, a spokesman for New Approach, explained the ruling as a “bureaucratic procedural requirement” in a statement to the press and supporters.
“Despite the overwhelming support from voters, we are disheartened to hear a judge will likely not allow the measure on the November ballot,” Cardetti said. “While we expect a final ruling in this case as early as [Wednesday], we will simply not have enough time to successfully appeal before the upcoming Sept. 27 ballot access deadline.”
Cardetti added that while the campaign was disappointed, the effect would be felt most by people with debilitating illnesses like cancer and epilepsy.
“We are proud of the work we have done educating the public about this important medical issue and feel confident that we have laid the groundwork for the inevitable passage of medical marijuana in Missouri,” Cardetti said.
Lee Winters, the president of New Approach’s board, thanked the work of supporters in a Facebook post and said that the group would likely try again in 2018.
“I can’t be more proud of the team that has come together to take us this far,” Winters wrote. “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.”
Update: Green handed down the official decision late Wednesday afternoon.
Secretary of State Jason Kander said it was the right decision but he also called on the legislature to pass a medical marijuana proposal of their own.
“After yesterday’s Court ruling, the initiative petition related to legalizing marijuana for medical purposes will not be on the ballot in November. Local election authorities from across the state did their due diligence verifying and counting the signatures, and as the Court agreed, the initiative petition fell just short.
While supporters of this important proposal can try to put it on the ballot again in two years, I believe it is time for the state legislature to step up. The Missouri General Assembly should pass legislation to allow medical marijuana so Missouri families that could greatly benefit from it don’t have to watch their loved ones continue suffering. If the legislature is not willing to do that, they should at least put the measure on the ballot themselves in 2018 to give Missouri voters the opportunity to decide on this issue.”