Report: Missouri Cannabis Legalization Initiative May Be Short on Signatures

A bid to put a cannabis legalization question on the midterm ballots in Missouri this year may be in jeopardy after early tabulations suggested the petition may fall short of signature requirements.

Full story after the jump.

Early tabulations from the Missouri Secretary of State’s office suggest the petition to put an adult cannabis use question to voters in November may fall short of the signature requirements, the Missouri Independent reports. Legal Missouri submitted the signatures in May, saying they had more than twice the number of valid signatures, but a review by the Independent shows the initiative is short in four of the six congressional districts required to make the ballot.

Sean Nicholson, campaign manager for Better Elections, which was seeking to put a ranked-choice voting question on ballots, said the coronavirus pandemic made signature gathering difficult and that it had collected a large number of signatures from unregistered people. He described the effort to the Independent as “a catastrophic failure on the part of Fieldworks,” which both Legal Missouri and Better Elections paid to gather signatures.

“We share our client’s frustration. Signature-gathering campaigns have faced unprecedented challenges in the last two years everywhere in the country. Our industry is not immune from the current workforce conditions.” — Fieldworks, in a statement, via the Independent

John Payne, Legal Missouri campaign manager, said he still expects the initiative to make the ballot, noting that the group used volunteers in addition to the paid Fieldworks employees.

“Having turned in nearly 400,000 signatures from Missourians who want to become the 20th state to regulate, tax and legalize cannabis, we are confident about being on this November’s ballot,” he said in a statement to the Independent.

According to the Independent review, Legal Missouri has sufficient signatures in the 1st District in St. Louis and St. Louis County and the 5th District, Kansas City, and neighboring regions; but it failed to reach the threshold in the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, and 7th districts. In the 2nd and 3rd districts, St. Charles has not reported and could hold enough signatures to be sufficient, the report says. However, there are only 13 counties with tiny populations left to report in the 6th, and three counties in the 7th remain uncounted, and both appear unlikely to obtain the almost 5,000 additional signatures needed in each district.

County officials have until July 26 to complete the review and the secretary of state has until August 9 to certify it for November ballots.

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