Citizens group opposes Amendment 3 citing potential problems including diversity, Critical Race Theory

By Buck Collier, Special Correspondent
Posted 10/26/22

SWISS — A Gasconade County citizens group is urging voter opposition to a November ballot issue supporting recreational marijuana use — not because it legalizes pot, but because of what …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

Citizens group opposes Amendment 3 citing potential problems including diversity, Critical Race Theory

Posted

SWISS — A Gasconade County citizens group is urging voter opposition to a November ballot issue supporting recreational marijuana use — not because it legalizes pot, but because of what the group sees as potential mischief buried deep within the 39 pages of the proposal.

In a public forum Thursday night at Swiss, members of the Gasconade County Concerned Citizens heard a long-time proponent for reform of Missouri’s marijuana laws detail the reasons to oppose Amendment 3 on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Lobbyist Eapan Thampy of Kansas City was the featured speaker of the forum held at Swiss Evangelical Reformed Church. The event attracted about 50 people — considered a large gathering by many local political observers — including many members of the Gasconade County Republican Club.

The event was moderated and promoted by conservative activist Cheryl Bohl of Owensville.

Thampy, who has lobbied to ease Missouri’s strict marijuana laws for 14 years, said Amendment 3 should be defeated for several reasons, among them items that should be handled through the statutory process rather than being written into the state Constitution. He argued that when items are placed in the Constitution, it is very difficult to change them later, unlike making statutory changes. For instance, Thampy mentioned that the ballot issue would allow a personal possession of marijuana of 3 ounces.

“These kinds of ideas have no place in the Constitution,” he said, arguing that specifics such as this should be contained in a statute.

The lobbyist also claimed that Amendment 3 would continue what he called the state’s “corrupt and rigged” licensing procedure for sellers of marijuana. He was critical of the costly licensing process used to determine who would be allowed to distribute medical marijuana and said the ballot issue only continues the questionable method for retailers of marijuana.

Under the proposal, those businesses holding licenses for medical marijuana would be pushed to the front of the line of applicants for licenses to sell recreational marijuana. Thampy and others critical of the amendment says this amounts to promoting monopolies and adds to the appearance of corruption.

“The point of Amendment 3 is to double down on that corruption,” Thampy said, pointing fingers at fellow lobbyists — some of whom are former state legislators — who worked to secure approval of the sale of medical marijuana.

The licensing process is costly to companies because of the amount of money involved, he said. Thampy noted that the medical marijuana industry is a $500-million business and the sale of recreational marijuana is estimated to be between $2 billion and $4 billion.

“That’s a lot of money,” Thampy said.

But most irritating for some opponents of Amendment 3 is a provision buried deep in the layers of pages that would allow the appointment of a “chief equity officer” that could work to promote such issues as diversity and the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in schools. CRT is a hot-button issue for conservatives in recent elections and has popped up in some state and federal races locally this year. However, local education administrators have repeatedly pointed out that CRT has not been part of the curriculum and there are no plans to include the teaching of CRT into the curriculum.

Under the proposal, legalized marijuana would carry a 6-percent tax. That money would be used to pay for the effort of expunging the records of people convicted of non-violent marijuana offenses. But Thampy and others are skeptical that expungement will be as easy as Amendment 3 advocates claim. Indeed, Thampy says Missouri might be better off waiting to see what the federal government will do regarding marijuana. The Biden Administration has announced that it will be seeking a rescheduling of marijuana, which could do the same thing as Amendment 3 regarding expungement.

“I think we’ll be seeing federal legislation in the coming years,” Thampy said.

Aside from paying for the expungement effort, remaining revenue from the 6-percent tax would be directed to military veterans’ healthcare, substance abuse treatment programs and the state’s Public Defender System, the proposal says.

The ballot issue would place the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services in charge of regulating the program and issuing the licenses to sell marijuana. The state would be required to issue at least 144 microbusiness licenses.

Much like alcohol, public consumption of marijuana and driving under the influence of the drug would be illegal.

Local jurisdictions — cities and counties — could opt out of allowing the sale of marijuana through a ban approved at the local ballot box.

Supporters of Amendment 3 say it will legalize, tax and regulate recreational marijuana for adult use. They say it will generate badly needed tax revenue for essential public services and the expungement provision will give a fresh start for people convicted of non-violent offenses. They also point out that the amendment would allow the creation of 144 new small businesses through licenses awarded to historically disadvantaged populations.

The Gasconade County Concerned Citizens urged voters to learn more about the proposal at www.protectmoconstitution.com.

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here