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  • Cecil King posted an article
    Missouri Ballot Initiative Process Survives Legislator's Attack see more

    Missouri Ballot Initiative Process Survives Legislators' Attack

    Missouri's regular spring 2021 legislative session ended May 14, 2021 by sending several bills to Governor Mike Parson's desk for his signature and to be enacted into law.

    While the legislative process is one filled with compromises, legislators did come to agreement on preserving 2nd Amendment gun rights in Missouri by not enforcing Federal gun laws, prohibit publishing names of lottery winners, and deregulating metal sales reporting requirements. They did kill funding for the Medicare Expansion initiative that was passed in the November 2020 election by a 53.27% voter approval.

    What is most notable for cannabis industry professionals are the bills that were not sent to the Governor. The House started the “War on the Initiative Process” by passing legislation to make citizen-initiated ballot initiatives more difficult, more expensive, and completely unusable by Missouri citizens.

    The voter advocacy group Show Me Integrity, who proclaims itself as “a cross-partisan movement for more effective, ethical government of, by, and for the people of Missouri & beyond” worked hard to defeat the proposed ballot bills. Through a supporting coalition of activists across Missouri, they mounted a “Protect the Ballot Initiative: Advocacy Day & Rally” on April 28, 2021 on the steps of the Missouri Capitol.

    "Whether you're here for health care or taxes or the fundamental freedom of every Missourian, we all know that the ballot initiative process is the way that we can keep that check on the Legislature to make sure they are doing the will of the people back home," Benjamin Singer, Show Me Integrity's executive director, told the crowd.

    Their voices may have been heard in the legislators' chambers because none of the ballot bills advanced. In a report to the Missouri Cannabis Industry Association Board of Directors, Steve Faber, Regulations Chairman reported Rep. Mike Henderson's, (R) District 117 sponsored Bill, HJR 20 was “laid over” by the Senate.

    A tactic most used by both chambers is to put bills on the “informal calendar” when they don't gain enough traction to advance through the legislative process. When queried by the MCIA Board about the legal implications and what the term “laid over” means, Faber responded “I have no idea.” The consensus was it could be just another term to describe the place where unwanted bills go to die.

    The Missouri House originated the two most egregious bills that would have ended the ballot initiative process in Missouri. In effect, the legislation would shorten the period of time in which you can gather signatures, increase the required number of signatures by more than 40%, and raise the required threshold for votes at the ballot box from a simple majority to a two-thirds supermajority to pass.

    Rep. Mike Henderson's, Bill, HJR 20 passed the House with a vote of 111-46 on March 11, 2021. It increased the required number of valid Missouri voter signatures from 8% to 10%. Henderson's bill demanded signatures from all eight congressional districts instead of the existing requirement from just six congressional districts.

    Bill HB333 shortened the time people would have to gather signatures, and granted the Attorney General the power to declare a petition unconstitutional without the due process of a court hearing. The Secretary of State would be allowed an unprecedented 150-word summary instead of 50 words to write a potentially biased ballot description about the initiative. If a court finds the Secretary’s language to be illegally misleading, then any signatures gathered before that court decision would be invalidated—punishing citizens for the Secretary’s illegal actions. In addition to these blatant power grabs, HB33 would also charge citizens $500 just for filing a petition.

    Missouri's medical marijuana Amendment 2 which passed in 2018 with a 65.59% approval would have never made it into law if these restrictive constitutional amendments were in place. Any future cannabis adult-use citizen initiative may not get on the ballot and pass in 2022 if Missouri Legislators have their way.

    The coalition of advocacy groups included the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Missouri, League of Women Voters of Missouri, Missouri NORML, Show Me Integrity, Missouri House Democrats, Missouri Democratic Party Progressive Caucus, Empower Missouri, and PROMO Missouri.

  • David Bennett posted an article
    Who deserves my business see more

    How Do Consumers Support the Missouri Cannabis Industry?

    One question on the minds of many in the cannabis community as the licensed facilities begin operations  is, "who should we support and who should we boycott?"

    There is a healthy amount of skepticism directed towards anyone who succeeded in winning a facility license, some assume that anyone who got a license must have cheated or benefited from a political payoff. Of course that is not true, some may have bought their way in and others may be ordinary folks like you and me who worked very hard and invested their life savings and it paid off.

    Nor can the good guys and bad guys be distinguished by the size of their business. Good guys and bad guys come in all sizes. It would be foolish to assume you can always trust a company because they only have one employee and can never trust a company with several locations. A mix of all sizes of companies generally serve the consumer the best.

    The very idea that only a few companies are being allowed to supply the cannabis market places all of them under suspicion. So, how do we tell the good guys from the bad guys? Who deserves to benefit from our purchases?

    The good guys are hard at work building out their businesses, investing time, money, and effort to fulfill their obligation to serve patients by doing their part to build a market place to produce and distribute cannabis products. They were ready to go when the bell rang.

    The bad guys are in no hurry to invest more money in the business. They are sitting on a facility license that is worth millions of dollars due to the economic scarcity created by the government monopoly. They are more interested in cashing in on the corporate asset than actually serving the market.

    The good guys are pricing their products based on the cost of production plus a fair profit and not charging 'what the market will bear', taking advantage of the scarcity of product resulting from the intentional scarcity of licenses. They are building their brand by earning the trust of their customers with quality products, good service, and fair prices.

    The bad guys are unprepared to produce quality product efficiently. They are bringing substandard products to market and charging higher than reasonable prices, taking advantage of the scarcity of supply.

    We should be supporting any cannabis facility that is hard at work building out their business and has made a real commitment to serve the patients. The companies that are holding back and minimizing their investment in hopes to capitalize on the value of the license itself are not the good guys.