Physician and attorney Dr. Brad Bradshaw is backing an ambitious (and high-tax) constitutional amendment to legalize medical cannabis in Missouri. Clearly, however, he'd prefer not share the November ballot with two competing marijuana proposals — so he's taken both of them to court.
The courts, though, have thus far stymied Bradshaw's attempts to clear the field. On Friday, Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce dismissed Bradshaw's lawsuit against the pro-pot group New Approach Missouri.
Still, Bradshaw swiftly filed an appeal. He tells the Riverfront Times
that he intends to appeal the matter all the way to the Missouri Supreme Court.
"It's clear they're committing voter fraud," Bradshaw said of New Approach, whose legalization proposal was designated as Amendment 2 after being approved for the ballot by the Missouri Secretary of State.
That approval, argues Bradshaw, was based on "thousands of fraudulently collected ballots."
Essentially, Bradshaw's lawsuit accuses New Approach of setting up signature-collection stations that were not actively monitored by circulators — a violation of the state's election law, he alleges.
Among the signatures the group gathered, Bradshaw contends, are voters not registered in the district identified on the petition. He also accuses the circulators of not signing affidavits in the presence of notaries.
Bradshaw has sought to depose twenty New Approach volunteers and election workers, with the intent of uncovering evidence of, in the words of his lawsuit, "systemic, pervasive, and ubiquitous pattern of instructing individuals to violate the legal requirements of the petition signature gathering process."
But Judge Joyce disagreed. In her ruling, she wrote that local election authorities had already determined the signatures were valid. Even if Bradshaw could prove New Approach violated collection requirements, she wrote, "The only relevant issue at this point is whether the signatures are those of registered voters."
And as far as "voter fraud," Joyce was less than convinced.
"Bradshaw's petition is devoid of any allegation that the alleged misconduct by New Approach misled voters into signing the petition or reduced the number of valid voter signatures on the petition."
New Approach — which only missed the 2016 ballot after having signatures invalidated
— cheered Friday's ruling.
"With the dismissal of attorney Brad Bradshaw's frivolous lawsuit, Missourians will have the opportunity to vote for Amendment 2 and make Missouri the 31st state that allow[s] doctors to recommend medical marijuana to patients with debilitating illnesses," New Approach spokesman Jack Cardetti said in a press release. "Our patient and veteran-centered approach stands in stark contrast to Amendment 3 and Brad Bradshaw, who is a coalition of one that is in this strictly for himself."
Indeed, Bradshaw has loaned his own initiative more than $1 million, essentially self-funding his vision to legalize medical marijuana. Bradshaw's constitutional amendment, Amendment 3, is unique among its competition on multiple grounds: It would levy the highest sales tax, fifteen percent, with the money earmarked to fund a massive, state-owned medical research institution to discover cures for currently incurable diseases.
In contrast, New Approach's proposal is the only ballot initiative that would allow patients to grow their own weed. It would impose a sales tax of just four percent.
A third proposal approved for the November ballot, Proposition C, also known as the Missourians for Patient Care Act, would create a new state law to legalize medical cannabis with a sales tax set at two percent. This initiative, too, is being sued by Bradshaw.
Proposition C was also approved by the Secretary of State for the November election. But Bradshaw alleges that it, too, actually missed its signature goal.
Bradshaw's lawsuit against Proposition C — which is backed by a group of funders whose identities are concealed by a dark money campaign group — is still ongoing. Last week, a judge gave approval for Bradshaw's lawyers to take depositions of election officials in Kansas City and Jackson County.
Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com
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