Missouri marijuana legalization advocates decide to wait for 2016

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 | 6:21 p.m. CST; updated 8:07 p.m. CST, Tuesday, February 18, 2014

COLUMBIA — MU senior Rachel Bragg said she wasn't surprised when she heard the news: Show-Me Cannabis Regulation's proposals for marijuana legalization won't be put to a statewide vote in November.

A survey of likely voters this November, commissioned by Show-Me Cannabis, found that 45 percent of participants indicated their support for legalization and 51 percent opposed the proposal.

Lower-than-usual voter turnout  is expected this November because state auditor is the only contested statewide office on the ballot.

John Payne of Poplar Bluff, executive director of Show-Me Cannabis, said voters supporting marijuana legalization are not as likely to vote this November as the 2016 presidential election. In the organization's most recent blog post, Payne indicated that the main demographic of supporters are independent voters under the age of 35.  

Bragg, a Show-Me Cannabis supporter since the organization's creation in 2011, gathered signatures during the 2012 campaign. She said there weren't many petitioners, and that many people she asked for signatures were unaware of the legalization proposal.

But Bragg remains hopeful for the 2016 election, and recent polling by Show-Me Cannabis gives her optimism: 52 percent of likely voters in 2016 support legalization.

"That is a majority, which is encouraging," Payne said in his blog post. "However, it's not a strong majority." 

Payne's goal is to gain support from 60 percent of likely voters.

During the next few weeks, Show-Me Cannabis members will be working to create a strategy to reach that goal with a focus on three areas: pushing for reform in Jefferson City; engaging the public through town hall meetings across the state; and submitting editorials, fliers and advertisements to media outlets.

Once a strategy is finalized, Payne said, he will publicly share the specifics in a newsletter.

"Ever year is a higher chance of getting more signatures," Bragg said. "The media is finally paying attention to legalization efforts. People are finally understanding that marijuana propaganda, like "Reefer Madness," is completely wrong."

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