Nixon Pardons Nine Nonviolent Offenders, Ignores Man Serving Life for Pot

Kholood Eid
Jeff Mizanskey has languished in prison for more than twenty years -- all on nonviolent pot charges.
As far as late Christmas presents go, Governor Jay Nixon's decision to pardon nine nonviolent offenders is as big and unprecedented as they come.

But for a governor who, before Monday, has pardoned only one person since taking office in 2009, the list of formerly naughty Missourians is arguably more notable for the name it doesn't include.

While the eight men and one woman Nixon pardoned yesterday already served their sentences for felony and misdemeanor crimes ranging from minor theft, writing bad checks and marijuana possession, there's no mention of Jeff Mizanskey, the only inmate in the state who's currently serving a life sentence without parole for three nonviolent pot charges.

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Marijuana Activists to Refile Legalization Petition After Elections Office Rejects It

The marijuana-legalization activists who filed an initiative petition to get legal weed on the 2016 ballot are re-filing their paperwork after the secretary of state's office rejected it for minor form issues.

So if you were looking to comment on or sign the petition, you'll have to wait a little longer.

Before a new ballot initiative is approved by the secretary of state's office, the attorney general takes a look-see to make sure the language conforms to legal style, which can be tricky. After KC NORML submitted its proposal to regulate marijuana like food -- meaning no age restrictions, no DUI risk, no taxes for medical product -- the attorney general's office rejected it for minor style issues, including incorrect underlining and brackets.

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Missouri Weed Legalization Proposal Includes No Age Restrictions, Immunity from DUIs

eggrole via flickr
Will Missouri be the next state to legalize weed?
Even in states where marijuana is recreationally legal, it's no free-for-all.

Age restrictions, public-intoxication laws, high taxes -- the rules for legal recreational pot use in Colorado, Washington (and soon, Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C.) resemble rules aimed at legal intoxicants, such as nicotine or alcohol.

But team behind the newest proposal to legalize marijuana in Missouri wants to change all that.

Author and cannabis activist Mark Pedersen doesn't think marijuana needs the same strict rules as alcohol or cigarettes. A better comparison, Pedersen tells Daily RFT, is to food, and he calls cannabis a "superfood."

"I believe that cannabis needs to be as legal as corn or wheat," Pedersen says. "We don't want to discourage use of cannabis because it is less toxic than baby aspirin. It would be like putting an age limit on corn."

See also: Why 2016 Could Be the Year Missouri Legalizes Marijuana

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Our 14 Most-Read Marijuana Stories from 2014

rafael-castillo via Flickr
It's been a big year for weed.

Two states have legalized it, and three more are on the way. Here in Show-Me State, advocates are already campaigning to get legalized recreational marijuana on the 2016 ballot.

As the year wraps up, Daily RFT thought we'd take a look through some of our most-read stories on that fine stuff.

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St. Louis Post-Dispatch Endorses Missouri Efforts to Legalize Marijuana in 2016

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Show-Me State may be ready to legalize weed.
Is Missouri ready to join Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C., in legalizing marijuana? The St. Louis Post-Dispatch thinks so.

The editorial board for St. Louis' metro daily newspaper has often supported legalizing pot, especially with this region's history of hemp agricultural production. But a week after Show-Me Cannabis filed the first round of paperwork to get the issue on the 2016 ballot, the Post-Dispatch published a piece headlined, "Editorial: Could pot legalization make Missouri's 2016 ballot? Let's hope so."

"Let the great pot debate of 2016 begin," the editorial says.

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Show-Me Cannabis Files Petition to Put Legal Weed on November 2016 Ballot

cagrimmett via flickr
2016 could be the year Missouri legalizes marijuana.
Missouri has taken the first step toward putting legal marijuana on the 2016 ballot.

As we reported Monday, Show-Me Cannabis planned to file the paperwork this week to put an initiative on the November 2016 ballot. On Thursday, the Secretary of State's office announced that the group submitted an initiative petition to amend the Missouri Constitution to allow for the sale and use of marijuana.

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Why 2016 Could Be the Year Missouri Legalizes Marijuana

Wikimedia Commons
Show-Me Cannabis plans to file paperwork this week for a ballot initiative that would ask Missouri voters to legalize the use and sale of marijuana. The filing with the Secretary of State's Office is just the beginning of what's expected to be a costly and arduous two-year campaign to get the issue on the November 2016 ballot.

This past February Show-Me Cannabis abandoned a similar ballot initiative scheduled for tomorrow's mid-term elections after polling indicated that 51 percent of Missouri voters still opposed legalization compared to 45 percent in favor.

See also: Legalized Marijuana in Missouri Unlikely for 2014, But There's Still Some Hope

John Payne, executive director of Show-Me Cannabis, tells Daily RFT that his group now believes it stands a much better chance of passing the measure in 2016, a presidential election in which younger voters tend to show up to the polls in greater numbers. In addition, Payne's marijuana-reform organization believes that within two years the majority of Missourians -- not just younger voters -- should be in favor of legalizing pot.

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Candidate for Congress Demands Clemency for Jeff Mizanskey, Inmate Serving Life for Weed

Irvin for Congress Facebook Page
Nate Irvin is asking Governor Jay Nixon to grant clemency to a man in prison for life for marijuana.
The Democratic candidate challenging Vicky Hartzler for her seat in the U.S. Congress is calling on Governor Jay Nixon to grant clemency to Jeff Mizanskey, the man serving a life sentence for non-violent marijuana offenses.

Nate Irvin, 25, kicked off his support with a press conference Monday on the capitol lawn, where Mizanskey's brother Mike gave an emotional plea. Mizanskey, whose story is detailed in a Riverfront Times cover story, has been in jail for 21 years and has no possibility of parole.

After learning about Mizanskey's plight from Aaron Malin, the director of research for Show-Me Cannabis, Irvin said he wanted to use his race for Congress to shed light on Mizanskey's sentence, which he calls "excessive to the point of absurdity."

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Prison Work Crew Finds Million-Dollar Marijuana Stash On Side of Road

Did you or somebody you know accidentally leave more than 600 pounds of marijuana on the side of a road? Because if you did, we have some bad news: Cops got it.

The St. Joseph News-Press reports that a prison work crew cleaning up the side of a road near St. Joseph in northeast Missouri stumbled upon a substantial sativa stash.

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Lucky Break for Missouri Professor Who Made Bad Joke That Led to Arrest for Growing Pot

A Missouri communications professor who broke the first rule of modern-day communications -- don't joke on Facebook about killing people -- got busted for growing marijuana. But the loose-lipped, green-thumbed prof got a break when a judge quashed the search warrant that led to the discovery of the homegrown operation.

The story started in August of last year when Matthew Rouch, who teaches at Northwest Missouri State, decided he'd do a little comedy. According to the Associated Press, Rouch responded to a colleague's post that he's always optimistic at the beginning of the semester, but "By October, I'll be wanting to get up to the top of the bell tower with a high powered rifle with a good scope, and probably a gatling gun as well."

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