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Readers: Missouri Should Fully Legalize Marijuana

Marijuana is everywhere, in the news, these days:

With a majority of Americans now in favor marijuana legalization, President Barack Obama is now saying weed is no more dangerous to individuals’ health than alcohol. (Huffington Post — Obama: Marijuana No More Dangerous Than Alcohol)

This is a blazing moment for American stoners. Colorado has just legalized the commercial production, sale, and recreational use of marijuana, while Washington State will begin its own pot liberalization initiative at the end of February. On Jan. 8, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said his state would join 20 others and the District of Columbia in allowing the drug for medical purposes. (Business Week – Legal Weed’s Strange Economics in Colorado)

To be sure, ending prohibition won’t singularly eliminate the underground market or end racism in law enforcement. But it is a constructive step toward those goals, especially considering the aforementioned White House ad correctly acknowledging that marijuana isn’t egregiously dangerous. Sure, the government’s “safest thing in the world” line may have been an overstatement – but it was certainly closer to the truth than all the fear-mongering about our decision to embrace reefer sanity here in Colorado. (Salon – Reefer sanity takes hold in Colorado)

New York is one of the only states in the Northeast without a medical marijuana program. Gov. Andrew Cuomo was opposed to medical marijuana, and attempts to create a law have failed to get through the state Senate for years. Now Cuomo has reversed himself, proposing a medical marijuana research program run under exacting federal guidelines that would be the most restrictive in the country.(NPR — New York’s Medical Marijuana Experiment Begins With Caution)

News articles will continue on the topic as more states legalize medical & recreational marijuana, Illinois Dept of Health released draft medical marijuana rules yesterday. What about here in Missouri? 

Thirteen initiative petitions related to the legalization of marijuana and hemp products were approved for circulation by Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander Wednesday, clearing the way for voters to decide on the issue during the November 2014 election.

For marijuana legalization to make the ballot, petitioners have to get enough signatures to account for eight percent of the total votes cast in the 2012 governor’s election from six of the state’s eight congressional districts. (KSDK)

The advocacy group Show-Me Cannabis submitted the petitions for approval but hasn’t yet determined if they’ll work to collect the needed signatures:

But before we launch a full campaign, however, we must assess whether likely 2014 voters will pass any of these measures at the ballot box in November. For that reason, we are hiring a firm to conduct scientific polling on the official ballot language approved by the Secretary of State. Polling is most accurate when respondents are presented with the specific question as it would appear on the ballot, so that is why we could not conduct this polling earlier.

We hope to receive results of the poll by the beginning of February, and if around 60 percent of likely 2014 voters surveyed say they will vote for our measure, we will very likely pursue a campaign this year. 60 percent is considered to be a very safe benchmark because even if support decreases somewhat by Election Day, which is common with initiatives, it will still pass. I am optimistic that the polling will show strong support, but that hunch needs to be tested scientifically. (Show-Me Cannabis)

The weekly polls here are not scientific, but since the same poll last April support of full legalization jumped from 53% to 63%!

Comparison of the results from a non-scienticfic poll conducted in April 2013 and last week.
Comparison of the results from a non-scienticfic poll conducted in April 2013 and last week.

From these results it appears increased full legalization support comes from the legalize medical/decriminalize recreational camp. It’ll be interesting to see the scientific polling of likely Missouri voters. Other states will likely have medical or full legalization on their November ballots.

Why am I so interested? Several reasons: prohibition on marijuana doesn’t make sense from a law enforcement, policy, health, or economic perspective. With the latter — the “green rush” is creating new opportunities, employing people, etc.  For full disclosure: about 14% of my portfolio is comprised of marijuana-related stocks: (CANV, CBIS, FSPM, GRNH).

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers: Missouri Should Wait Until Courts Force Same-Sex Marriage

November 27, 2013 Missouri, Politics/Policy 7 Comments

In unusually high voting, it seems readers don’t want Missouri to recognize same-sex marriages until forced to do so by the courts, likely the United States Supreme Court. Here’s the results from last week’s poll:

Q: Should Missouri allow same-sex couples to marry before being required by the courts?

  1. No 130 [51.79%]
  2. Yes 102 [40.64%]
  3. Unsure/no opinion 19 [7.57%]

These polls, of course, aren’t scientific.

Even without recognition by Missouri, my boyfriend and I are registered Domestic Partners with the City of Saint Louis. We’ll be married across the river in Illinois in June. In 2015 we’ll file our federal and state taxes as a married couple.

In the meantime more Missouri same-sex couples will continue getting married out of state — especially border states like Iowa & Illinois. Missouri could draw couples from redder states like Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Doing so would help our state economy.

Once the SCOTUS makes same-sex marriage recognized in all 50 states, the short-term geographic advantage will be lost. Sadly, Missouri will probably be among the final holdouts — like Mississippi and Alabama.

— Steve Patterson

 

Poll: Should Missouri Allow Same-Sex Couples To Marry Before Being Required By The Courts?

simpsons01
From the Simpsons episode “There’s Something About Marrying”, episode #345 from season 16 which aired on March 18, 2005. Click image for more info

Missouri and same-sex marriage made the national news last week:

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) said Thursday that he would sign an executive order to allow gay and lesbian couples who were legally married in other states to file joint tax returns with the state Department of Revenue, a move likely to prompt a legislative reaction from the Republican-dominated legislature.

Nixon told reporters Thursday that because the couples will be able to file joint returns with the Internal Revenue Service, the Missouri Department of Revenue should accept those returns as well. (Washington Post)

Missouri requires couples to file in Missouri as they do their federal return(s).  Those who file individual federal returns must file individual state returns with Missouri, those who file a joint federal return must also do so in Missouri. This worked until the IRS said legally married same-sex couples can file together regardless of their state of residence.

This as two more states recently joined the list recognizing same-sex marriages:

As Hawaii and Illinois join the list of states approving same-sex marriage, the United States crosses a big mark on the issue: More than 1 in 3 Americans will live where same-sex marriage is legal.

It’s a dramatic shift in a short period of time — one not seen on other social issues.

Hawaii’s Legislature passed the measure Tuesday. Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed it into law Wednesday morning. It will go into effect December 2.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn plans to sign legislation for his state November 20. It will take effect June 1. (CNN)

With Hawaii and Illinois the total number of states recognizing same0-sex marriage is 16, plus the District of Columbia. Here’s the list in order of effective date, showing when effective and how it happened:

  1. Massachusetts/May 2004/Courts
  2. California/June 2008-November 2008, June 2013/Courts, Prop 8, SCOTUS
  3. Connecticut/November 2008/Courts & legislature
  4. District of Columbia/March 2009/City Council
  5. Iowa/April 2009/Courts
  6. Vermont/September 2009/Legislature (overrode veto)
  7. New Hampshire/January 2010/Legislature
  8. New York/July 2011/Legislature
  9. Washington/December 2012/Legislature & voters
  10. Maine/December 2012/Voters
  11. Maryland/January 2013/Legislature & voters
  12. Delaware/July 2013/Legislature
  13. Rhode Island/August 2013/Legislature
  14. Minnesota/August 2013/Legislature
  15. New Jersey/October 2013/Courts
  16. Hawaii/December 2013/Legislature
  17. Illinois/June 2014/Legislature

The above list is from information from Wikipedia.

More than half are based on legislative action, not the courts. This list accounts for 16/50 states, what about the other 34?

Here’s a list of states that have passed constitutional bans:

  1. Alaska 1998
  2. Hawaii 1998 (changed in 2013)
  3. Nebraska 2000
  4. Nevada 2002
  5. Arkansas 2004
  6. Georgia 2004
  7. Kentucky 2004
  8. Louisiana 2004
  9. Michigan 2004
  10. Mississippi 2004
  11. Missouri 2004
  12. Montana 2004
  13. North Dakota 2004
  14. Ohio 2004
  15. Oklahoma 2004
  16. Oregon 2004
  17. Utah 2004
  18. Kansas 2005
  19. Texas 2005
  20. Alabama 2006
  21. Colorado 2006
  22. Idaho 2006
  23. South Carolina 2006
  24. South Dakota 2006
  25. Tennessee 2006
  26. Virginia 2006
  27. Wisconsin 2006
  28. Arizona 2008 (a 2006 ban failed to pass)
  29. California 2008 (ruled unconstitutional in 2013)
  30. Florida 2008
  31. North Carolina 2012

So 29 states (31 less Hawaii & California), including Missouri, have constitutional bans against same-sex marriage by defining marriage between a man and a woman. Thirteen of these states passed their ban in 2004, the year same-sex marriages began in Massachusetts. Five states don’t recognize same-sex marriage, but also don’t have a constitutional ban. These rely on state law to make marriage between a man and a woman.

By the time the 2016 election I think we’ll see a different landscape from today. The poll question this week wants your take on Missouri, should we allow same-sex couples to marry before being required by the courts to do so? The poll is in the right sidebar until next Sunday morning.

— Steve Patterson

 

Missouri Needs A Better Jury System

Today is Law Day and part of Juror Appreciation Week.

juryservice

I was called in last month for jury service and I was looking forward to it. For the first time I was to start on a Wednesday rather than a Monday. We were all dismissed for lunch at 11:30am and told to return by 1:15pm. At this point no numbers had been called for the first jury pool. Finally at 2pm the first group was called and my number was among those.

We get to the courtroom and the staff take care of details. The judge comes out and explains the importance of jurors but the case wasn’t ready to be heard that day after all, we were dismissed. I wanted to serve on a jury like I did last time. I wasn’t losing money by being there.

States like Illinois & California have systems available for each circuit to use where jurors can call in the day before to see if they are needed or not. Alternatively, prospective jurors can login online to see if they are needed. This lets people go about there lives. For my Wednesday service I would’ve checked on Tuesday. It likely would’ve told me I was needed since the judge thought he’d need a jury. But others might have been told to call in on Wednesday to see if they were needed on Thursday. A friend I saw on jury duty was losing money sitting there, he could’ve been working on Wednesday instead.  Missouri needs such a system so people don’t spend days just sitting there!

Here are the poll results from the poll last week:

Q: How do you feel about jury duty?

  1. I go and want to serve 58 [50.43%]
  2. I show up (if called) but don’t want to be called 29 [25.22%]
  3. Other: 14 [12.17%]
  4. If called, I try to get out of it. 5 4.35% 4.35%
  5. Unsure/no opinion 4 [3.48%]
  6. I don’t care 3 [2.61%]
  7. I don’t vote, so I don’t get called. 2 [1.74%]

The 14 “other” answers from readers were:

  1. would love to go but never get called
  2. I have no problem serving. But saying “want to serve” is a bit of a stretch.
  3. Love it! After voting, it’s the most important way we act as a democracy.
  4. never been called
  5. I’ve lived in the city for 4 years and still haven’t been called. I want to go!
  6. Dont vote, get called anyway
  7. I’ve never been called, but would go.
  8. I have never been called for it.
  9. Considering who I’ve seen picked, I hope I never face a jury trial in stl city
  10. I go – depends on the case
  11. Reform. Current system has too many uneducated people making critical decisions.
  12. I do vote, but haven’t been called.
  13. Never been called!
  14. It’s my civic duty.

I like serving and I think others would too if we only have to show up when we are needed for a jury pool.

— Steve Patterson

 

Missouri’s Sex Offender Registry Is Overcrowded

One might think the Missouri Sex Offender Registry would be a useful tool when determining where to buy a house, or let your kid walk to school.  Think again! Legislators tried earlier this year to change the requirements so the registry would have fewer listed and be more helpful to the rest of us:

Currently, Missouri has more than 12,000 people on its sex offender registry. Crimes range from extreme rape cases to consensual sex with minors. The new law could cut as many as 5,000 people in its first year and 1,000 people each year after, according to a fiscal study. 

Rep. Rodney Schad, R-Versailles, argued that public opinion has pushed the registry too far – adding people who are not threats to society – so that it’s no longer effective. (stltoday.com)

ABOVE: Registered sex offenders around Chesterfield’s city hall, blue dots represent work address and red represent home address.

JOPLIN, MO– An effort to change the makeup of the Missouri Sex Offender Registry misses the deadline. House Bill 1700 was approved by state representatives, but failed to come to a vote in the senate. The measure would have created a tiered system for sex offenders. It also would have removed some convictions from the list. Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder says the issue will likely return in the 2013 session. (source)

A person on the registry that had consensual sex with his minor girlfriend contacted me about the need to change Missouri’s law, I was shocked as I researched it. This “Romeo and Juliet” scenario is a common reason for ending up being labeled a sex offender, which greatly hampers employment prospects. Missouri’s age of consent is 17 so consensual sex between a 16 year old female and a 21 year old male is 2nd Degree Rape per Missouri statutes.

I searched for many addresses throughout the region and everywhere blue (work) and home (red) dots appeared. A dot nearby doesn’t mean your loved ones are in danger — the offender could just be someone that didn’t realize he was just a bit too old for his girlfriend — in Missouri. In other states the age of consent might be younger, or older, than Missouri.

You want to know about the Michael Devlin’s, not a young man that got caught with his girlfriend months before she’d have been legal.

— Steve Patterson

 

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