By John Payne
On Monday, the Riverfront Times reported that Missouri State Representative Rory Ellinger (D - University City) intends to sponsor or co-sponsor a cannabis legalization bill in the 2014 legislative session. Ellinger was one of the primary sponsors, along with Representative Chris Kelly (D - Columbia), of both a cannabis decriminalization bill and a record expungement bill in the 2013 legislative session.
I believe the support those bills received from this organization and advocates such as yourself has convinced Ellinger, Kelly, and a number of their colleagues that the time is ripe for a discussion on legalizing and regulating cannabis like alcohol.
Ellinger also plans to reintroduce the decriminalization bill, which, as Ellinger notes, has a much better chance of passing than the legalization bill. In fact, I think we will have to pass legalization in Missouri through the ballot initiative process. However, we will still do everything in our power to support any legalization bill in the legislature, even if it is unlikely to pass through the legislature any time soon.
Political change is a long term endeavor, and what is debated in the legislature often defines the boundaries of what is seen as politically possible. Just getting a bill introduced and discussed in Jefferson City can make an idea that was thought of as outlandish or Utopian just a few years ago into a thoroughly mainstream topic.
For this issue in particular, it helps remove the taboo that surrounds open discussion of cannabis policy and allows people to consider the facts without fear of political or social persecution. Once that happens to a sufficient degree, we will win, because it is only ignorance and fear that allow cannabis prohibition to continue.
The legislative session does not begin until January, but it's not too early to start talking to your state legislators about legalization. One way you can do that is by responding to the surveys that most legislators mail to every registered voter in their district. Be sure to mention that you want to see cannabis legalized in Missouri, and that the issue is extremely important to you!
Your financial investment in Show-Me Cannabis also allows us to continuously push reform forward, even while the legislature is out of session by organizing town hall meetings across the state, running ads that put our message in front of new audiences, and garnering tremendous amounts of media coverage every week. Please make a difference by contributing now!
Source: National Cannabis Coalition