Remember how last election cycle, the state of Missouri seemed poised to place a medical marijuana initiative before voters, only to be thwarted by confusing signature gathering requirements that put them just 23 signatures short?
This time around, Tony Messenger reports that Missouri faces the daunting task of not one, not two, but three separate campaigns trying to get medical marijuana before the voters. Three campaigns dividing the potential volunteers, donors, and media time. Three campaigns confusing the electorate and potentially conflicting if two or all of them manage to make the ballot and win.
And now, the leading campaign is dragging them all down in a case of sloppy vetting leading to accusations of stolen valor and campaign misinformation.
Missourians for Patient Care is a statutory initiative that claims to lead the fundraising battle among the three, with $114,000 more raised in the first two months than the other two campaigns combined. A video posted on their website features a female in a wheelchair identified as Corporal Liz Roberts, promoting the measure. A triangle flag case on the table behind her symbolizes her service in the US military, with a small photograph stored within it showing her unit in Afghanistan.
James Rogers, a military veteran himself, noticed the photo, as it depicted the unit in Afghanistan for which he served as platoon sergeant. Rogers noticed that the photo didn’t contain Liz Roberts. Nor did it contain Douglas Roberts, the identity Liz Roberts says she maintained as a soldier before transitioning to female.
“She was lying about everything,” Rogers says. “It’s a complete disgrace. I’m embarrassed to say I served with her.”
The story goes on to poke holes in Liz Roberts’ changing stories. She claimed to be hermaphroditic and the military set her gender in a reassignment surgery.
The military’s first gender reassignment surgery didn’t happen until after Liz Roberts was discharged. Nothing in her military discharge paperwork (DD 214) indicated any such surgery.
She claimed to have been injured by an IED blast in Iraq, where she never served.
She claimed to have been pregnant at the time, but she served as a man in the military, supposedly gender-reassigned.
She claimed to have master’s degree in aeronautical engineering and skills as a pilot, both contrary to the facts.
It is discouraging enough that the potential to bring medical marijuana to Missouri has divided up the state’s activists and donors into competing camps. Missourians for Patient Care even explicitly attacks the other two initiatives, which are constitutional amendment petitions rather than statutory measures, on their campaign website:
The Missouri Patient Care Act, sponsored by MPC, also holds a distinct advantage in requiring 62,999 fewer signatures than the constitutional mandate from New Approach Missouri.
Compared against amending the Missouri State Constitution, qualifying the Missouri Patient Care Act to the ballot has several advantages.
“It is highly doubtful that a medical product with so much diversity and potential will not require some technical corrections to its laws, permits, and practices over the next generation,” [campaign signature coordinator Travis H.] Brown said. “A general law that can be improved by state and local authorities is especially timely to have before voters ahead of other sweeping constitutional restrictions for large bureaucracies.”
Of course, another way to read that is that unlike a constitutional measure, a statutory measure can be completely re-written by the legislature in a way that differs greatly from the original intent of the initiative.
Like in Maine, where voters approved six plants and social clubs for recreational cannabis enthusiasts, but the legislature decided they meant three plants and no clubs. Or like in Oregon, where voters approved legalization with $35/ounce weight tax, sales allowed everywhere unless local voters ban them, and absolutely no changes to medical marijuana, but the legislature decided they meant 20 percent sales tax, sales banned in pot-hating counties unless local voters approve them, and a complete overhaul of the medical marijuana program.
Now, Missourians for Patient Care, having promoted themselves as the viable initiative while tarring the constitutional ones, risks bringing them all down by failing to properly vet one of their most visible spokespeople.