By John Payne
Despite the flooding in the area, a standing-room-only crowd of nearly 100 people turned out to The Centre in Rolla for our town hall meeting. I've worked in the public policy arena for nearly half a decade and have been active in politics my entire adult life, and I've never seen a crowd that large at a political meeting outside of election season. Moreover, the crowd seemed to be unanimous in their support for reforming our cannabis laws, and I believe that shows that there is a powerful grassroots movement for cannabis legalization underway all across the state of Missouri!
Police sergeant and Tea Party spokesman Gary Wiegert, State Representative Paul Curtman (R - Pacific), and I all spoke about Missouri's cannabis laws for about ten minutes each and then engaged in a discussion of the issue with the attendees for the next hour and a half. State Representatives Keith Frederick (R - Rolla) and Jeff Pogue (R - Salem) also attended the event to obsereve, and I think it's safe to say that the turnout and the information presented made an impact on them.
Both said coming into the event that they leaned against our reforming Missouri's cannabis laws but approached the issue with an open mind. By the end of the event, both committed to researching the subject more, and Rep. Frederick said that he planned to include questions about the issue in his constituent survey this year.
With the Rolla event behind us, our next public forum event will take place in Joplin a little more than two weeks from now on Monday, August 26 starting at 6:00 P.M. In a collaboration with the Reason Foundation, we will screen their new film, America's Longest War, at Joplin's Christman Event Center (501 S. Main Street, 64801). After the film, I will join Reason Foundation President David Nott and Show-Me Cannabis activists Daryl and Trish Bertrand --- whose lives have been turned upside down by the war on cannabis as documented in Reason Magazine --- to discuss the movie and take questions from the audience.
Since I announced the Joplin screening last week, many people have asked when they will be able to see the film in other parts of Missouri. The film belongs to the Reason Foundation, so I cannot say for certain, but this is probably the only time this film will be screened publicly in the state. If the screening is well-attended, we will likely try to hold screenings in other cities, but I can't make any guarantees.
I urge you to check out the film's trailer --- which, incidentally, features a great deal of footage from SWAT raids in Columbia, Missouri --- then join the Facebook event page and invite your friends.Let's see if Joplin can beat Rolla's attendance!
We have also scheduled a new town hall meeting for Columbia at 7:00 P.M. on Thursday, September 19. The meeting will feature Show-Me Cannabis Regulation board chairman and criminal defense attorney Dan Viets, Missouri State Representative Chris Kelly (D - Columbia), and Hank Waters, the publisher and editor of The Columbia Daily Tribune. If you are in the area, join the event page for updates.