By John Payne
Earlier this month, the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch --- the newspaper with the largest circulation in the state of Missouri --- ran a staff editorial endorsing the idea of cannabis legalization and the initiative we turned in to the Secretary of State, in particular.
This endorsement is yet another sign of how this issue has moved into the mainstream, even in a right-leaning state such as Missouri. It also signifies how seriously we are now taken by the state's gatekeepers, which has not always been the case.
In fact, until recently, few newspapers in the country were willing to support the idea of legalization, let alone a specific initiative. For example, although the Denver Post had supported legalizing possession and use of cannabis prior to 2012, they urged readers to vote against Colorado's Amendment 64. The paper feared it would lead to a clash with the federal government and did not want the state to become home to a major cannabis industry.
By contrast, the Post-Dispatch welcomes such an industry in Missouri as a much needed boost to our economy:
More than Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Washington, D.C., Missouri has a strong history with hemp agricultural production, having been a leader in the industry in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The ongoing research in the state on using biomass for energy could well benefit from an introduction of hemp crops to the state. Life science research into agricultural hybrids and advanced drug applications could find new and more effective ways to use marijuana for medical purposes. And there might be no other state in the nation that could benefit more from a new tax on the sales of legal pot that could fund various state needs, such as Missouri's underfunded schools.
The editorial also notes that legalizing cannabis could do a great deal to improve race relations in the state, particularly in the Saint Louis area:
A ground-breaking 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that blacks in the U.S. are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites despite similar usage rates. The disparity in the city of St. Louis in that study was a whopping 18 to 1.
This mirrors the problems found in north St. Louis County, where state racial profiling numbers all across the region show that blacks are stopped by police at a significantly higher percentage than whites, and searched for contraband more, even though, the statistics say, the hit rate for drugs or other contraband is higher among the white drivers who are pulled over.
The result? Too many young black men and women in prison for offenses that wouldn't lead to prison for middle-class whites. Missouri's prisons are overcrowded and in the last couple of decades have eaten up a higher percentage of the state's budget while schools have received less, percentage-wise.
One arrest for smoking dope unleashes a domino effect that contributes significantly to the state of distressed communities.
Finally, the editors note that legalization is one of the few issues that can transcend party lines in this divided state. Democrats have traditionally supported cannabis law reform more than Republicans, but the issue appeals to the fiscally conservative and limited government values of the Republican Party, as well.
While the Star did not do an editorial endorsement, they did run a good opinion piece covering Neill Franklin and Ira Glasser's presentations at the UMKC law school on November 13. As perhaps the most-read newspaper in the state of Kansas, a favorable nod from the Star signals that even the bright red Sunflower State is feeling the pressure of prohibition reform thanks to Show-Me Cannabis' work in Missouri and Colorado's Amendment 64.
We continue to discuss possible changes to our initiative and will likely file subsequent drafts after assessing comments from attorneys, scientific polling data, and your feedback. Although the specifics are not yell fully settled, we will move forward with the broadest possible reform that we believe will pass at the ballot box on November 8, 2016.
Help us continue moving forward and winning victories in the court of public opinion, the legislature, and at the ballot box by making a $25 contribution now. Or show your support for the long haul by signing up for a monthly pledge of $10 or $20!
Source: Show Me Cannabis