We’ll find out soon if a judge in St. Louis will allow prosecutors from western Missouri to intervene in a lawsuit filed to get a medical marijuana initiative back on the ballot in Missouri.
A dozen Missouri prosecutors, including Buchanan County Prosecuting Attorney Dwight Scroggins, hope to block the measure because they say it would violate federal law.
The plaintiffs, including a St. Louis woman and the group New Approach Missouri, say that about 2,200 signatures collected in St. Louis during their petition drive were improperly rejected by state election officials.
But in an interview, Scroggins says that really doesn’t matter.
“The number of signatures is not relevant to anything because it totally misses the point,” Scroggins said. “The point is Missouri cannot pass a Constitutional Amendment or a law, either one, that contradicts or is violation of federal law.”
Two states currently allow recreational marijuana use and sales. But Scroggins says the laws in Colorado and Washington have not been fully tested by the courts, and when they are, Scroggins says they will be struck down.
“The question is ‘are they Constitutionally allowed to?’ ” Scroggins says. “I don’t think that question has been answered in those other states.”
“I sincerely believe that when that question is answered it will be no, they are not allowed to do that in contravention of federal law.”
To illustrate his reasoning, Scroggins offered an analogy. Women have the right to vote in the United States. Scroggins says Missouri does NOT have the right to deny women’s suffrage.
“I don’t think there’s anybody out there who believes that even if they got enough signatures, even if they got it on the ballot, even if it passed, I don’t think there’s anybody out there who believes that Missouri would be able to exclude women from voting, because it violates federal law. This is exactly the same situation.”
Earlier this month, Scroggins and 11 other county prosecutors announced they would file to intervene in the lawsuit Dundon versus Kander. The plaintiffs Shelia Dundon and the group New Approach Missouri, are challenging the Secretary of State’s rejection of signatures in their petition drive to get a marijuana measure on the ballot. Scroggins and the other prosecutors hope to convince the judge to reject the lawsuit and the petition drive.
“It doesn’t make any difference how many signatures you get, and it doesn’t make any difference whether something passes by popular vote, if it violates federal law, you’re not allowed to do it,” Scroggins said. “And, using, possessing or distributing marijuana violates federal law, and therefore Missouri is not allowed to pass a law to the contrary.”
A number of hearings are pending in the case, which could be decided as soon as September 6, according to online court records.