Missouri Democrat Launches Group Opposing Cannabis Legalization Ballot Initiative

A Missouri Democratic representative formed a coalition this week opposing the state’s cannabis legalization ballot measure over its lack of social equity measures, its proposed fines for smoking cannabis in public, and issues with its automatic expungement provisions.

Full story after the jump.

A Missouri Democratic state representative on Tuesday announced the formation of the Impactful Canna Reform Coalition, a group opposing the ballot measure seeking to legalize cannabis in the state, the Kansas City Star reports. Rep. Ashley Bland Manlove said she formed the group along with “like-minded community partners” because they realized “people from politicians to Bob on the street didn’t know the details” on the proposed constitutional amendment. 

“The capitalism monster loves to exploit you, and that is what’s happening with this petition.” — Bland Manlove, in a statement, via the Star 

The question was approved for November ballots earlier this month and early data from the campaign suggests voters will pass the reforms. Impactful Canna Reform Coalition is criticizing the amendment for not offering social equity provisions and for civil penalties included in the question, including a $100 fine for smoking cannabis in public, the report says.

The group includes the founders of the Kansas City-based WyldKard Lyfestyle Veteran Creative Lifestyle Brand which specializes in cooking and catering; Alycia Hightower, COO of holistic wellness company The Natural High Company; Makeda Peterson, a Kansas City community organizer and founder of Inyanga Herbal Remedies; Andrew McDowell, the co-founder of The Funky Skunk, a medical cannabis company; and Mac Mayberry with cannabis company Major Pac. 

The coalition also criticized the amendment’s automatic expungement provision for non-violent cannabis crimes, saying that the state’s poor rehabilitation programs would leave those who have their records expunged at the risk of “repeating the mistakes that caused their run-ins with the law in the first place,” according to the group’s statement outlined by the Star. 

In a statement, Adolphus Pruitt, president of the St. Louis NAACP, said that while the group applauds Bland Manlove’s “leadership on the issue,” it does “not believe that the Missouri General Assembly will be willing to pass a comprehensive marijuana legalization measure anytime in the near future.” 

“The legislature has had years to act on this and has been either unwilling or unable to do so,” Pruitt said in a statement, “and know from long experience that the politicians in Jefferson City are rarely allies in the fight for equity and justice.” 

SurveyUSA poll released in May found 76% of Missouri Democrats supported adult-use legalization, with 14% opposed, along with 49% of Republicans (38% opposed) and 66% of independent voters (20% opposed). 

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