Why Activists Nationwide Should Support Missouri Marijuana Reform
I have been fortunate enough to make some good friends from Missouri since I started this blog. The people behind the successful Oregon marijuana legalization initiative were cannabis refugees from Missouri. I’ve never visited Missouri, but I hope to make it there sometime soon. If there is one thing that I know about Missouri, it’s that their marijuana laws are very scary. Missouri once sentenced a man to life in prison for marijuana only offenses (Jeff Mizanskey).
Get caught selling any amount of marijuana, and you are looking at a felony, at least 7 years in prison, and a hefty fine. I had a good friend who was cultivating marijuana, and even though he didn’t have any prior convictions, he was looking at fifteen years in prison. If you know marijuana consumers in Missouri, I’m sure that they have more than a few horror stories that they can share.
For obvious reasons Missouri needs to change their marijuana laws. Fortunately for the citizens of Missouri, there is a very talented, hardworking team called the Show-Me Cannabis campaign. The Show-Me Cannabis campaign first caught my attention during the 2012 election. The campaign was able to gather tens of thousands of signatures for a marijuana legalization initiative in 2012, and while the campaign didn’t gather enough signatures to get their initiative on the ballot, it was still a very strong showing that impressed me a lot. After all, Missouri is not exactly a West Coast state where one would expect to see that many signatures gathered.
From that time on I have always kept a close eye on Show-Me Cannabis efforts, and even became business partners with one of the leaders of the campaign. I have had a front row seat to watch all of the amazing things that the Show-Me Cannabis campaign has been doing. The most high profile victory that they have helped achieve was the recent announcement that Jeff Mizanskey will finally be freed from his life prison sentence for marijuana only offenses. The Show-Me Cannabis campaign worked tirelessly alongside the Mizanskey family to get Jeff freed. Had it not been for a very aggressive, well run public awareness campaign spearheaded by the Show-Me Cannabis campaign, Jeff would likely still be serving his overly harsh prison sentence with no end in sight.
The Show-Me Cannabis campaign has done an outstanding job of taking Missouri drug task forces to task and has multiple lawsuits right now against those drug task forces for violating public record/meeting laws. Holding Missouri drug forces accountable is vital to reform efforts in Missouri. The Show-Me Cannabis campaign has waged a public awareness campaign that is unparalleled. As I always tell people, if the Show-Me Cannabis team was working in just about any other state in America, they would have already legalized marijuana. It’s just that they happen to be operating in one of the hardest states in the country to achieve reform. Reefer madness is very prevalent in Missouri, and changing minds there is not an easy task, yet the Show-Me Cannabis campaign is doing exactly that.
The Show-Me Cannabis campaign is working towards hopefully marijuana legalization in 2016, but if polling is not favorable toward an effort like that, then the focus will be on legalizing medical marijuana, which has polled very well there from my understanding. Because activists at Show-Me Cannabis have worked so hard and done so well, national funders are already in place to help the campaign pursue a statewide reform effort. That’s something that not many campaigns can say, especially in an area of America that is as conservative as Missouri.
I was asked recently by a national reporter at a cannabis social event what I thought a victory in Missouri would mean. That question came after I had established that yes, I truly believe that Missouri can win. I told the reporter the same thing that I tell everyone that will listen. A victory in Missouri would be the most significant victory to date, and would be a watershed moment for the cannabis movement. A victory in Missouri would send a message to every other state in America that every state is in play, and that marijuana reform can and will happen sooner than later in every region of America, no matter how conservative people are there.
I don’t mean to downplay the recent marijuana victories that have occurred in other states, but it’s not as surprising to see a state out West legalize marijuana. My home state, Oregon, legalized in 2014, much to the surprise of just about no one. All of my friends and relatives in other states text me when victory was announced in Oregon and basically said something to the effect of, ‘Oregon legalized marijuana? Duh. That was a no-brainer.’ A victory in Missouri would be completely different. Every conservative politician in America would see the writing on the wall for prohibition the second recreational and/or medical marijuana was passed in Missouri.
A victory in Missouri would speed up marijuana reform in other states, and at the federal level. Other states that once seemed completely off-limits would all of a sudden seem possible for reform. It would empower and encourage citizens in every state to pursue reform. Federal politicians would see a victory in Missouri, and whether they liked marijuana or not, would recognize that marijuana reform is inevitable, and it would swing a lot of votes in Congress in favor of reform in my opinion. Much more so than states like Washington and Colorado legalizing, which like most Western states are not seen as being representative of the larger national political scene.
The Show-Me Cannabis campaign is the best team that I have ever seen. Their research is second to none, their passion for justice is second to none, and their talent is so abundant that I can’t really quantify it in words. I know there are a lot of naysayers out there that want to downplay Missouri’s chances at reform. But those people have obviously not done their homework. Please, don’t take my word for it. Do some research, and talk to the campaign. Become familiar with what they have done, what they are doing currently, and what they have planned for the future. You will see very quickly that Dan Viets and the SMC crew are on top of their game. I’m very thankful that I’m on the same side as them, because they are absolutely unstoppable.
You can find out more about the Show-Me Cannabis campaign and their efforts at their website, on Facebook, and on Twitter. You can also text SMC to 420420 to receive updates from the campaign. Please, if you are able, donate to their cause so that they can continue their amazing work. Go Missouri!