ST. LOUIS (AP) — Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, who is the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, said Thursday that it’s “time for the state legislature to step up” and pass a law allowing medical marijuana.
Kander came out in support of medical marijuana in a statement through the secretary of state’s office, not his Senate campaign. He was commenting on a judge’s ruling Wednesday that a proposal allowing medical cannabis in Missouri won’t go to voters because the number of petition signatures fell short.
“While supporters of this important proposal can try to put it on the ballot again in two years, I believe it is time for the state legislature to step up,” Kander said in the statement. “The Missouri General Assembly should pass legislation to allow medical marijuana so Missouri families that could greatly benefit from it don’t have to watch their loved ones continue suffering. If the legislature is not willing to do that, they should at least put the measure on the ballot themselves in 2018 to give Missouri voters the opportunity to decide on this issue.”
Stephanie Fleming, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office, said Kander does not take a public position on ballot initiative petitions until the process is complete, which was why he waited until Thursday to make the statement.
Medical cannabis has not been a major issue in the Senate race. A spokesman for incumbent Republican Sen. Roy Blunt said Blunt supports states’ rights to determine medical marijuana laws, and has voted to prohibit the federal government from interfering.
On Wednesday, Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green’s decision agreed with St. Louis-area election authorities, who threw out thousands of petition signatures as invalid.
Proposed constitutional amendments must receive signatures from at least 8 percent of registered voters in six of the state’s eight congressional districts in order to go to voters. Kander has said the measure fell 2,242 signatures short in the 2nd District covering part of the St. Louis area.
A spokesman for New Approach Missouri, a supporter of the ballot initiative, has called an appeal unlikely because of time constraints. Absentee voting for the November election begins Tuesday.
Nine states will vote on cannabis initiatives in November.