Missouri’s ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for adult use in 2022 is short of the necessary signatures in four of the six Congressional districts necessary to make the ballot, which could bring recreational marijuana to legalization next November in the state.
The latest tabulations from Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s office confirmed that their proposal will not be on the November ballot.
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Sean Nicholson, a campaign manager for Better Elections, said that “one of the biggest obstacles for the initiative campaigns was the COVID-19 pandemic which made signature gathering difficult and a large number of signatures from unregistered people.”
“It was a catastrophic failure on the part of Fieldworks,” Nicholson added with regards to the more than $8 million paid by the two campaigns to collect signatures. “We turned in signatures in the belief we had the stuff,” he said.
Fieldworks, a company that managed several successful signature-gathering efforts in Missouri, including a 2020 proposal on Medicaid expansion and a 2018 referendum on the right to work, expressed its disappointment in the result.
“We share our client’s frustration,” reads a Fieldworks statement. “Signature-gathering campaigns have faced unprecedented challenges in the last two years everywhere in the country. Our industry is not immune from the current workforce conditions.”
However, John Payne, the initiative’s campaign manager, said he still expects the initiative to make the ballot.
“Having turned in nearly 400,000 signatures from Missourians who want to become the 20th state to regulate, tax, and legalize cannabis, we are confident about being on this November’s ballot,” he said.
The Legal Missouri 2022 initiative would “expand the current medical marijuana business program by allowing existing licensees to serve both medical and non-medical purchasers.”
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Moreover, 144 licenses would be given for what will be known as “microbusiness facilities,” with six dispensaries and 12 wholesale facilities in each congressional district. Also, it would require expungement of marijuana offenses from criminal records.
Elections officials have until July 26 to complete the review of signatures from their counties. If it’s enough, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft will have until August 9 to issue a statement certifying that recreational marijuana will be added to the ballot.
This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.