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New initiative petitions look to alter medical marijuana amendment, ethical standards

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Three new initiative petitions have been submitted to the state this week. Two are new proposals, and another is a revised version of one previously submitted.

One of the newly filed petitions bars all government employees from receiving compensation of any kind from outside parties for actions or inactions, another seeks to replace the recently voter-approved medical marijuana amendment with the “Missouri Cannabis Restoration and Protection,” and the other is a slightly tweaked version of the “The Renewable Energy Project.”

To date, the Secretary of State’s Office has received 51 initiative petitions for the 2020 general election ballot. Of those, 16 have been approved to circulate, five are open to comment, one is closed to comment, eight have been withdrawn, and 21 have been rejected.

More than half of all petitions filed were submitted before the turn of the year, with 21 filed in December 2018 alone. The Secretary of State’s Office has received 12 citizen proposals in January, six in February, and five so far in March — three of which were filed in the last week.

Only three filers have only filed one petition — two of which are in the recent batch of proposals.

Jackie Johnson submitted Petition 2020-50, which seeks to bar all government employees from receiving compensation of any kind from outside parties for actions or inactions.

The “Honest Government Amendment” reads, in part: “This is to include, but not limited to, campaign contributions, third-party payments, hiring or paying family members, business investments, donations, or gifts to foundations the employee has access or use of.” The Missouri Ethics Commission would be given “full subpoena authority” to investigate complaints related to the change.

Mark Pedersen filed Petition 2020-51, which seeks to replace the recently voter-approved medical marijuana amendment with the “Missouri Cannabis Restoration and Protection.”

The constitutional amendment would remove cannabis from Missouri’s list of controlled substances and scheduled drugs. Medical marijuana would be available to patients with a physician’s recommendation without taxation. Cannabis would not be subject to special zoning or “excessive” fees. Driving while using cannabis would “not be grounds for issuing a ‘Driving under the influence’ (DUI)…” citation.

It would also make cultivating cannabis for personal use “not unlawful and shall not be considered an offense.”

The other recently submitted initiative petitions were filed by Winston Apple. Petition 2020-49 is another version of the “The Renewable Energy Project” but with a few alterations. So far, Apple has filed 13 initiative petitions, eight of which were since February 1, 2019. Three are currently accepting comments, five have been withdrawn, and five have been rejected. None have been approved for circulation.

Before circulating petitions for signatures, state law requires groups must first have the form of their petition approved by the Secretary of State’s Office. Every proposal received by the Secretary of State’s Office is sent to the Auditor’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office.

The Attorney General’s Office reviews the petition and forwards its comments to the Secretary of State’s Office within 10 days after receiving the proposed petition. The Auditor’s Office prepares a fiscal note and fiscal note summary and forwards it to the Attorney General’s Office within 20 days after receiving the proposed petition.

Comments are taken pursuant to Section 116.334, RSMo. This provision allows Missourians to offer their observations on the submitted proposal online, by mail, or phone. Missourians can provide their comments online.

More about the initiative petition process can be found on Secretary of State’s webpage.

This article is part of a periodic update on the initiative petition process. Other stories in the series can be found here