Missouri Still Needs Marijuana Reform
We regret to announce that we did not collect enough signatures to qualify for the 2012 ballot. We ended up with around 65,000 signatures, which is a long way from where we needed to be, but it also represents a huge number of Missourians who were willing to state publicly that they support ending cannabis prohibition. Furthermore, considering that fewer than 300 people - the vast majority acting purely as volunteers - collected all those signatures in just five months, it is both a respectable accomplishment and one for which each of those volunteers deserves the deepest gratitude.
Thank you to all the amazing activists who spent their weekends carting around signs reading "Legalize Now, Ask Me How" in one hand and a stack of petitions in another, notarizing those petitions until their hands cramped up, and then validating signatures deep into the night. Your work exemplifies what it means to be a citizen in a republic, and although we did not succeed in placing this measure on the ballot, you succeeded in putting the issue front and center before the hundreds of thousands of Missourians you asked to sign the petition during the course of this campaign.
Your outstanding efforts on the ground also made the campaign successful in getting our message out to the media. We were covered repeatedly by the Kansas City Star and the Saint Louis Post Dispatch, which published favorable editorials by respected columnist Bill McClellan and Eastern Missouri Campaign Manager John Payne. Smaller papers publishednumerousstoriesaboutthe initiative, many of them supporting our efforts, such as this endorsement by Columbia Daily Tribune columnist Henry Waters and this letter to the Sedalia News-Journal. The campaign was featured in local television news stories in almost every metropolitan area in the state, from Springfield and Joplin in the southwest to Saint Joseph in the northwest and Kirksville in the northeast, as well as Kansas City and Saint Louis. Members of the board of directors also appeared frequently on radio stations across the state, including multiple appearances on The McGraw Show on KTRS and The Mark Reardon Show on KMOX in Saint Louis and on 96.5 The Buzz in Kansas City. This list is far from exhaustive, but it demonstrates the tremendous amount of earned media that the campaign was able to generate.
We did not start this campaign just to bring media attention to the issue, however; we actually set out to end the disastrous policy of marijuana prohibition in Missouri. We believe our failure to give Missourians the chance to vote on that idea during the election this fall stems from two primary factors: insufficient funding and a lack of continued volunteer involvement.
We did not engage in enough grassroots fundraising during the early part of the campaign, and by the time we were in the midst of gathering signatures, we could not devote our full attention to raising money. Furthermore, some potentially large donors held back from giving as much as they initially intended because of a Cole County Circuit Court ruling that, if upheld, could invalidate every petition with a fiscal note. (It's a complicated case to explain briefly, but if you'd like to read more about it, here is a good place to start.) Those two problems made it impossible for us to hire a professional signature-gathering firm to collect the bulk of the signatures.
That was a serious setback, but not necessarily a fatal one. The campaign trained nearly 1,500 volunteers statewide to circulate the petition, so we had the manpower to put the initiative on the ballot with volunteers alone. As you might have already surmised, though, the vast majority of those volunteers did not turn in any signatures. I blame this primarily on poor communication on both sides. We should have done a better job of updating volunteers and potential volunteers via email and telephone. Our canvasser groups on Facebook were hotbeds of activity during much of the campaign, but most volunteers were not in those groups, so their effectiveness as a medium of communication was limited. Contact information for potential volunteers was not utilized in a timely fashion (or at all, in some cases), especially when signature gathering first began. That is unacceptable, and we are committed to ensuring that it does not happen again.
That said, many volunteers did not respond to repeated efforts to contact them. Members of the board and volunteers who made phone calls on behalf of the campaign often reported that those calls were not answered or returned. There are many of us out there working for change, but there are many more who believe in change yet remain silent. It is simple: if we want to end cannabis prohibition, the burden is on us - on you - to do something about it.
Finally, we want you to know that this is not over. The movement to end cannabis prohibition grows stronger every day. A recent poll by Rasmussen Reports showed that more Americans favor marijuana legalization than oppose it, confirming the results of a Gallup poll finding that a majority of likely voters nationwide are in favor of the idea, with 54 percent support in the Midwest. In November, voters in Colorado and Washington will vote on initiatives that will legalize and regulate cannabis like alcohol if passed, and a similar initiative in Oregon could also make the ballot. Show-Me Cannabis Regulation has strengthened its ties to that nationwide movement against marijuana prohibition by joining the National Cannabis Coalition , a new group that seeks to help organizations across the country fight these unjust laws, and we encourage you to visit their website and like them on Facebook. Although we have not made any formal decision yet about the future of Show-Me Cannabis Regulation, we are considering another run in 2014, and in the next couple of weeks we will be meeting with the volunteers who turned in signatures, or contributed in some other way to the campaign, to discuss that possibility. (If you are one of those volunteers, expect an email about that meeting tomorrow.) Thank you again for your support, and we hope that you will continue the fight with us.
Show-Me Cannabis Regulation Board of Directors
P.S. from Eastern Missouri Campaign Director John Payne:
I have been fighting against marijuana prohibition my entire adult life, and although I am deeply disappointed that we did not qualify for the 2012 ballot, we have made more progress on this issue at the state level in the last year than in the decade before it. There have been local victories, but nothing to bring all of us together. However, there is now a statewide group with more than 10,000 supporters and a core of hundreds of activists fighting for a sane cannabis policy all across Missouri. If someone had told me a couple of years ago that this group would exist in 2012, I would not have believed them - but here it is, and it has been the greatest honor of my life to be a part of it. Now let's make it bigger, better, and stronger until we win!
With all my gratitude and respect,