Lawsuit asks judge to block marijuana legalization from appearing on Missouri ballot

The lawsuit argues the initiative petition violates single-subject rules and didn’t have a sufficient number of signatures to qualify for the ballot

The Missouri Independent reports

An anti-drug legalization activist has filed a lawsuit arguing a recreational marijuana initiative petition was improperly certified by Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and should not appear on the November ballot.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in Cole County Circuit Court — the final day within the 10-day window outlined under state law for challenges to be brought to initiative petitions once they’re certified. It did not appear in the online court docket until Monday morning.

It argues that the petition changes multiple sections of the Missouri Constitution in violation of single-subject rules and its backers did not secure the minimum number of signatures to warrant its inclusion on the November ballot.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Joy Sweeney, a Jefferson City resident, who also serves as the deputy director of training, technical assistance and community outreach for Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, a group of community coalitions that aim to prevent substance use and abuse.

Protect Our Kids PAC, a Colorado-based super PAC launched earlier this year that opposes the legalization of drugs, is helping support the lawsuit. Luke Niforatos, the group’s CEO, called the initiative petition “a scam.”

“Not only does the language deceive voters about the harms of legalization, it is in violation of state law and the Missouri Constitution,” Niforatos said in a statement. “…We hope the courts will rule on this issue expeditiously and spare Missouri’s children from targeting by Big Marijuana.”

JoDonn Chaney, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office, said the office had not been officially served and could not comment on the lawsuit’s specifics, but that the signature totals and process “speak for themselves.”

“The individuals responsible for submitting this (initiative petition) met the constitutional requirements as required by statute, therefore Secretary Ashcroft certified Amendment 3 to the ballot,” Chaney said. “The secretary followed the law and fulfilled his statutory duty and stands behind his certification.”

John Payne, a spokesman for the Legal Missouri campaign behind the initiative petition, said that it was the only one that had the grassroots support necessary to collect enough signatures to make the ballot.

“This lawsuit lacks merit and in less than three months Missouri will be the 20th state to regulate, tax and legalize cannabis,” Payne said.

If the petition’s certification had been based on just the signatures that were verified by local election authorities, then it would not have had enough valid signatures to make the ballot, the lawsuit argues.

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Lawsuit asks judge to block marijuana legalization from appearing on Missouri ballot

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