Missourians for a New Approach’s 2020 ballot initiative to pass adult-use cannabis legalization in the state ended because of the coronavirus pandemic that has swept the nation. Now, the group is looking ahead to the 2022 ballot.
Dan Viets is an attorney who chairs the group’s advisory board and is both secretary of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and that organization’s state coordinator for Missouri.
Viets noted a recent Gallup poll showed that 70% of Americans consider smoking cannabis to be morally acceptable. “By November of 2022, I think—I'll just speak for myself on this point—but I think we will probably be approaching the same support we had for medical in 2018, and that was 66%," he said.
He contributes that prediction to the following: “It's partly the aging of the population, but it’s also the fact that across the nation, obviously, cannabis is now much more accepted.”
Viets said the task of gathering signatures from 8% of voters in six out of Missouri’s eight congressional districts, as governed by state law, required numerous resources but was feasible until the pandemic struck.
Other groups gathering signatures for separate initiatives were able to continue to do so, but Missourians for a New Approach still had a ways to go to reach the signature requirement, which, according to the Springfield News-Leader, is around 160,000.
A following attempt by the group to convince the state to allow electronic signatures was unsuccessful, Viets said.
“I think it's all but certain that we will be launching another campaign for a similar measure, maybe not exactly the same, but [a] very similar measure,” he said. “And we will probably launch that effort shortly after the November election.”
The group believes it is people’s right to grow their own cannabis, he said, and is also proposing the creation of “a healthy and consumer-friendly, regulated and taxed commercial cannabis industry.”
Viets was one of the authors of Amendment 2 in Missouri’s 2018 general election, which legalized medical cannabis and is now Article 14, Section 1 of the state constitution.
One of the things he said he and his co-authors of the medical initiative aimed to ensure was the sale of clones and seedlings in medical dispensaries. The language wasn’t clear enough, though, so he strives to explicitly push to legalize those products’ sale.
Also, on the medical side, Viets is looking to address patient access, as the state requires them to renew their prescription/card/application each year. He said: “It does seem an unnecessary burden to make patients go back to the doctor every year.”