The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 27, 2013

Group advocating legalization of marijuana outlines arguments during Joplin stop

JOPLIN, Mo. — Seligman resident Donna Denton came to Joplin Monday night to show support for efforts to legalize marijuana use in Missouri.

“People my age saw pot in the ’60s as something else entirely and that stigma is still there,” Denton said during an event at JB’s Piano Bar. “But as we have got older and our health has turned, many people my age have turned to marijuana as an alternative. We have started to re-evaluate it and to make up our own minds. We will be a big part of the election if it makes it to the ballot.”

Denton was one of an estimated 60 people at the downtown bar as Show-Me Cannabis held its first organized event in Joplin as part of a statewide tour to promote the decriminalization and regulation of marijuana production and possession in Missouri.

Show-Me Cannabis director John Payne and former board member and Joplin resident Kelly Maddy led the rally, which included a showing of the 2013 documentary “America’s Longest War” about the decades-long war on drugs.

A discussion followed with the film’s producer and Southwest Missouri residents who claim they have been hurt by existing state marijuana laws.

Maddy is the former president of the Joplin chapter of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws, or NORML. He also led an unsuccessful effort in 2008 to put a vote on the ballot in Joplin that would decriminalize personal possession of marijuana.

“The turnout was good for an area like ours that has not been stereotypically supportive of legalization,” Maddy said. “We had both sides here tonight and that is encouraging to see a dialogue started between both groups. I’m convinced that we can all learn more about the issues on the table and we can find a better way toward reducing drug abuse while finding a way to end prohibition.”

‘Concern and threat’

Also on hand Monday night were two members of the Alliance of Southwest Missouri, a local nonprofit that works to prevent what it characterizes as unhealthy behaviors, including marijuana use. The Alliance has identified marijuana “as a concern and threat to the safety and well being of families in our area.”

Members of the group, including Robin Standridge, director of Carthage Drug Free Communities, and Chelsey Hall, community impact director, said they were there to ask questions and learn what advocates of marijuana legalization are planning.

The Alliance, in a position paper issued with a statement of opposition last week, argues that legalization of marijuana will not solve prison overcrowding and that taxes raised by legalization will cover only a small portion of the social and health costs associated with its use.

Asked about research by the federal Food and Drug Administration into the possible medical benefits of marijuana, Ozark resident Daryl Bertrand — one of those who claims he was punished because he used marijuana for medicinal reasons — responded by saying research is difficult now.

“It has been a political block on the research, so getting clinical trials through has been extremely difficult. As a DEA Schedule One drug, it has been declared that it has no medical value or therapeutic value and that is a problem that many of the medical states are facing. Because there is a federal blockage on study, it is harder to pin down dosage and strength and finding ways to use cannabis to combat illness. We are limited in what can be studied by those groups because the way it is classified and that is something that also has to change.”

Schedule One refers to drugs that are tightly restricted under the federal Controlled Substances Act because they have no currently accepted medical use.

Payne, who has held four other similar meetings around the state, said he has plans for 20 more through next May.

“When we were in Rolla, we had local legislators who took part in the discussion and that is what we want to have in Joplin eventually,” Payne said. “We are laying the groundwork here to continue a discussion whose time has come. If we want to attract more of the people who are on the fence, who have questions, then we need to keep that dialogue going in the community.”

Ballot initiatives

Show-Me Cannabis’ efforts in 2012 brought 70,000 signatures to a petition to put a ballot initiative before state voters. The measure did not make the ballot then, but the group has worked toward organizing support with legislators and with residents in the state, in addition to raising money needed to campaign for their efforts in future elections.

“We haven’t decided on going after the 2014 campaign or working toward 2016 but we are going to at least draft something now to get the ballot language down,” Payne said. “But we estimate that we are going to need at least $200,000 in each (congressional) district to get our word out and that means we are going to have to raise millions.”

That campaign is what Bertrand said he wants to see.

Bertrand said he was arrested in 2010 after authorities seized 47 mature marijuana plants that he was growing for what he said was “personal medicinal” purposes. After a fall in 2009 resulted in several surgeries that put 12 screws, two rods and a metal plate in his back, Bertrand turned to growing marijuana for personal use after he said his body rejected the painkillers that had been prescribed to him.

Bertrand received an eight-year suspended sentence for his actions.

“I am a felon for turning to a substance in my body that wasn’t toxic to me,” Bertrand said. “I didn’t want to support the black market, but that’s what prohibition has made as the only option. I’m an example of why we need to step up as a state and change laws that aren’t working anymore.”

Other people in the audience shared his sentiment. Former Nevada police officer and current Joplin resident James Moore said that many of his interactions with marijuana as a police officer led him to leave the department in 2010.

“Our prisons are full of drug users and the time we are spending on current drug laws is a drain on our efforts,” Moore said. “It is ridiculous to keep a system going that isn’t stopping crime from being committed.”

Text Only
Local News
  • Embezzler from Joplin car dealerships sent to prison

    A federal judge has sentenced Kathryn M. Stayton to 13 months in prison for embezzling more than $100,000 from Frank Fletcher Ford and Credit Cars of Joplin. U.S. District Judge Greg Kays assessed the 36-year-old Joplin woman the prison term at a sentencing hearing this week in federal court in Springfield. The judge also ordered the former controller at both car dealerships to pay restitution totaling $121,249. 51.

    April 18, 2014

  • Screening of MSSU presidential applicants to wrap by end of April

    The Board of Governors at Missouri Southern State University could be in a position to name a president as early as the end of June, according to a timeline presented Friday by the co-chair of the presidential search committee.

    April 18, 2014

  • Teams from Carl Junction, Diamond advance in Destination Imagination

    Student teams from Carl Junction and Diamond will be traveling to Destination Imagination finals May 20-24 in Knoxville, Tenn., after being top finishers in competition this month at Missouri Southern State University.

    April 18, 2014

  • Neosho Dogwood Tour reset, after false start

    The 53rd annual Neosho Dogwood Tour will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, April 27. The event, presented by the Neosho Rotary Club and the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce, originally was scheduled for Sunday, April 13.

    April 18, 2014

  • r041814capbus4.jpg Funding shortfall could hinder public transportation in Southeast Kansas

    For the past two years, Pittsburg State University sophomore Travis Cook has been using public transportation to get to and from his classes. He began using the bus his freshman year, when he didn’t have a vehicle to drive even to the grocery store — which is said to be the case for many who use the service.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bruner denied change of venue for murder trial

    Circuit Judge Gayle Crane has denied a change of venue for a defendant charged with fatally shooting an assistant football coach at Missouri Southern State University. The attorney for Jeffrey Bruner claimed pretrial publicity as the reason for seeking a change of venue in Jasper County Circuit Court.

    April 18, 2014

  • Russell family sues city, Joplin police

    Family members of a teenage girl whose suicide a year ago brought them into conflict with police officers and emergency medical technicians are suing the city and the Joplin Police Department. Kevin and Julissa Russell and their son, Brant Russell, are the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in Jasper County Circuit Court. The action filed on the Russells’ behalf by Kansas City attorney Andrew Protzman names the city, the Police Department and Officers Austin Wolf and Tyler Christensen as defendants.

    April 18, 2014

  • Kansas Regents stick with social media policy

    After directing a committee to study a controversial social media policy and make recommended changes, the Kansas Board of Regents appears to not be changing the policy at all. It’s left some in academia baffled by why it appointed the work group in the first place.

    April 18, 2014

  • Pittsburg Farmer's Market to open in new building, new location

    The official market season in Pittsburg, Kan., will kick off in the market’s new pavilion-style building at a new address, 11th and Broadway, on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. Market hours will continue throughout the season on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to noon, with some Wednesdays or other special days throughout the season as announced.

    April 18, 2014

  • 041714 School safe rooms4_72.jpg Joplin school district readies community safe rooms for storm season

    Thousands of Joplin residents will soon be able to stay safe during storms in some of the region’s newest shelters. Community safe rooms at Cecil Floyd, Stapleton, McKinley and Eastmorland elementary schools, which double as gymnasiums, and Junge Field, which will double as a field house, are expected to be open within the next few weeks, according to Mike Johnson, the school district’s director of construction.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

A Missouri Senate committee has endorsed a 1-cent sales tax increase to fund transportation projects. The proposed constitutional amendment passed the House earlier this month. If passed by the full Senate, the measure would head to the November ballot for voter approval. Would you vote in favor of it?

Yes.
No.
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter