JCPAO Press Releases

Posted on: August 18, 2016

Prosecutors Intervene in Marijuana Lawsuit

For Immediate Release
Aug. 18, 2016

A dozen of Missouri’s top prosecutors, including Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker, Clay County Prosecuting Attorney Dan White and Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd, filed a legal action today to prevent the issue of marijuana legalization from going on the November ballot.

The prosecutors jointly filed a lawsuit to intervene in an ongoing legal action to block marijuana legalization from the November ballot. The prosecutors contend it would be unconstitutional to place it on the ballot because federal law currently makes marijuana an illegal controlled substance. Possession, manufacturing or distribution of it are a crime under federal law.

Locally, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, Clay County Prosecuting Attorney Dan White and Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd joined the suit.

The prosecutions contend Missouri law cannot usurp federal law.

“Missouri’s prosecutors are sworn to uphold the Constitution of Missouri and the Constitution of the United States,” White said. “The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, and the Missouri Constitution itself, are clear: Missouri law cannot contradict Federal law.”

Baker said that Missouri prosecutors have great empathy for those who suffer serious pain or discomfort and seek therapeutic relief. But the FDA has authority to approve the components of marijuana for prescription use.

Just last week, the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency rejected calls to re-classify marijuana itself, and maintained it as a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning that marijuana has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. The DEA has announced that it will expand opportunities for legitimate scientific research, which will help determine whether safe components of marijuana are effective for treatment and can be separated from marijuana’s dangerous components.

“Nationwide, a well-financed movement of those who seek to peddle this dangerous drug has increased pressure to decriminalize and legalize marijuana,” Zahnd said. “Marijuana proponents paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to professional signature gatherers in Missouri to try to put this issue on the ballot. They fell short and now they are hoping a court will bail them out.”

Zahnd noted that Missouri has rejected attempts to make marijuana freely available three times in the past year—twice in the legislature and now through the petition process.

“No amount of money can get around the rule of law and circumvent constitutional principles,” Zahnd said. “We are confident the courts will end this misguided effort and uphold the Missouri Constitution.”

Other prosecutors in the suit include:

Buchanan County Prosecuting Attorney Dwight Scroggins; Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Limbaugh; Christian County Prosecuting Attorney Amy Fite; Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson; Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Hillman; St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Timothy A. Lohmar; St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch; St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce; and Stone County Prosecuting Attorney Matt A. Selby.

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