See this little man, this mijo? Correction: see this pint-size warrior? On August 24, this 3-year-old Missouri boy named Ayden Markum, who is confined to a wheelchair and suffers from intractable epilepsy and cerebral palsy, led the charge on behalf of medical cannabis in his home state.
Over the past four years, New Approach Missouri has been working diligently to get a medical cannabis initiative on their state's November ballot. As far as New Approach Missouri goes—I say this kindly—these people are as clean-cut as they come. More importantly, their campaign was smart, sound, straight-shooting, well-designed; their team's thinking science, they're thinking finance, technology—long-term approaches, sustainability, public welfare. In fact, all polls indicated 60-70% of Missouri voters support medical cannabis.
Not surprisingly, New Approach Missouri collected the 285,000 signatures required to get their medical cannabis initiative on the ballot. So they've just taken this huge step forward, finally making real progress, when: BAM! They hit a wall, head-on.
Or rather, a group led by Greene County prosecutor Dan Patterson felt it was their obligation to intervene, presumably on behalf of the public good. In total, Mr. Patterson was joined by 12 other prosecutors, but elected officials, one and all. Since the group don't have an official name, as far as I know, for the sake of clarity, let's just call them Old Approach Missouri (OAM).
Greene County prosecutor Dan Patterson
Apparently, there was a discrepancy and approximately 2,200 of the signatures New Approach Missouri gathered were invalidated—ample reason to fear their "pro-pot" initiative was fraudulent, according to Old Approach Missouri. That was their worry, this dream team of public servants; this was purely a legal matter.
So, again, not surprisingly, Old Approach Missouri (OAM) and New Approach Missouri (NAM) went to court.. . .
To be fair, or at least feign fairness, let's say Old Missouri believe every word of what they're saying, towing the "cannabis is a gateway drug" party line. Everybody's got to be a Denier these days, right. Anyhow, for the sake of argument, let's say these 13 public prosecutors intervened on behalf of their concern for the health, safe and well-being of the citizens of Missouri . . .. The problem is, it doesn't add up.
Simply because this is Missouri we're talking about. And Missouri is the Meth Capital of the U.S. Well, actually, that's debatable—Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee are all vying for the midwestern league title. Whatever the current ranking, suffice to say these Big Four comprise America's Meth Belt.
So the difficulty I have taking OAM's words at face value is that these 13 dedicated public servants hail from a state that experiences thousands of meth lab explosions annually, and this has been going on for decades. Yet, strangely, Missouri is the last state in the nation to adopt any type of prescription drug monitoring program—they'll be 50th in the nation, should they ever adopt such a program.
How many pictures of bombed-out barns and the charred carcasses of double-wides do you want? That's just the property damage; the human toll is far more gruesome.
Well. New Approach Missouri wasn't backing down, and joined by its president Lee Winter, Ayden and his mom Ashley wanted to hand deliver their letter of protest to prosecutor Dan Patterson, asking he please quit intervening with the will of 60-70% of Missouri's people. Not to mention, asking Mr. Patterson to look them in the eye and speak his mind. Apparently, Patterson was preoccupied with a jury trial and not able to meet the petitioners in person.
The Markum family have traveled to Colorado for CBD oil for Ayden, which immediately, overnight, cut his seizures in half. And what happened next, that little boy smiled for the first time in his life. So if New Approach Missouri were to lose their case, the Markums would almost certainly have to relocate, pick up and leave Missouri for good.
Cut to: this past August, a Missouri judge, Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green ruled that New Approach Missouri's medical cannabis ballot initiative was unconstitutional. Oh, but wait—it gets worse—much. In the end, the decision came down to a question of 23 signatures—not 2,300—23, the number following 22. Prosecutors questioned their validity, owning to the fact that these 23 signatures were handwritten.
Then again, this isn't about 23 signatures and it never was; this is about the power of 13 people.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I'm left no choice but to call a spade a spade: Old Approach Missouri, these people take ass-backwards to entirely new heights and depths. Aside from referring to cannabis as a "destructive drug, with no proven benefits (medical or otherwise), " what galls me is that prosecutors claim they did "due diligence."
If you knew absolutely nothing about cannabis, it would take less than a second to Google the latest reports. And having done just that, let me give some idea of what you'd see. Page 1, right off the top, publications such as: a Chicago Sun-Times story, The Daily Beast's "Is Weed the Secret to Beating Opioid Addition? There's TIME Magazine's "Can Medical Marijuana Help End the Opioid Epidemic? And a Boston Herald piece that goes back to 2014.
For godsake, The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids reposted that Herald story on their site.
Nevertheless, it was the likes of Sudafed that turned this entire region into a human Tornado Alley, not cannabis. This group claims that cannabis is a "disgraceful drug." and I claim their behavior is appalling: to each their own. Besides, if it's not one thing, it's another: Birthers, Climate Deniers, Flat-Earthers.
I didn't used to believe the stories, but now I know it's true. Once, there were people who, despite all scientific evidence, whole-heartedly denied that Earth is round. Many people. And I know it's true because they still live among us today.
Anyhow. For far greater insight into the New Approach Missouri case, please take a look at Missouri-born-and-bred writer and advocate Anthony Johnson's response piece for WeedNews.com.
Whether it takes 2 or 4 more years to get medical marijuana on their state ballot, New Approach Missouri's fight continues. Another thing, because the moral of this story cannot possibly be overstated: vote. And finally, Ayden Markum, you are my hero, young man.
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