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Cannabis reform activists in Missouri received a reprieve after a state court dismissed a lawsuit against a ballot initiative that seeks to legalize cannabis in Missouri and facilitate the expungement of nonviolent cannabis-related charges. Soon after a cannabis reform initiative by Legal Missouri 2022 received state certification, prohibitionists filed a lawsuit asking that the initiative be dismissed.
With the backing of Protect Our Kids PAC, Community Anti-Drugs Coalitions of America (CADCA) member Joy Sweeney filed a suit against the cannabis ballot initiative. Her suit claimed that the measure was not in line with single-subject rules for ballot measures as per Missouri’s constitution. Furthermore, the suit argued that there were irregularities in the ballot’s signature verifying process, suggesting that Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft may have intervened improperly.
This may be due to the fact that a state review of signatures found that activists had actually surpassed their signature requirements contrary to early reports that indicated they were struggling to collect enough signatures. Ultimately, the lawsuit was thrown out on procedural grounds, with the court concluding that the plaintiff did not have standing as she could not prove state residency. Although Sweeney claimed to be a resident of Jefferson City, the secretary of state’s office stated that it did not have enough evidence to prove her residency.
Judge Cotton Walker, who eventually dismissed the lawsuit, said that he didn’t agree with Sweeney’s arguments against the legalization measure, stating that its scope and language were in line with the single-subject rule and that Ashcroft’s office verified signatures and certified the measure as per state law. The final judgment stated that even if Sweeney could prove that she was a resident of Missouri, the court would still have dismissed her suit as its arguments did not stand.
Protect Our Kids CEO Luke Niforatos said that the anti-legalization organization plans on appealing the recent ruling. Niforatos said that the secretary of state and Walker “seem to be ignoring their own records,” which shows that Sweeney, the plaintiff, is a Jefferson City resident. He stated that the process was “rife with the appearance of corruption” from the beginning, stating that the secretary of state’s role in invalidating Sweeney’s lawsuit aroused suspicion.
Despite this, legalization activists are happy with the court’s decision to throw out the lawsuit. Legal Missouri 2022 campaign manager John Payne said that the ruling represented another step toward the enactment of a citizen-led measure to legalize, regulate and tax cannabis in Missouri.
If the measure is approved during the November ballot, Missouri residents can look forward to having licensed companies, such as Flora Growth Corp. (NASDAQ: FLGC), that operate in other jurisdictions and serve clients there.
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