Marijuana legalization proponents and the First Amendment

A hard working group of Mississippians lead by Kelly Jacobs of Hernando have been gathering signatures in support of a ballot initiative (No. 48) to legalize marijuana.  I’ve signed it because I can’t imagine a rational world where alcohol is legal and marijuana is not. Supporters have been collecting signatures all over the state (they have to get a certain number in each congressional district).  Signers have to be registered voters so petitions have to be sent to the various circuit clerks to verify that signers are registered voters.

On Friday June 12th, ballot Initiative sponsor, Kelly Jacobs drove 80 miles to a Grenada Lake State Park to collect signatures outside of the Thunder on Water Safe Boating Festival. She first stopped at the Sheriff’s booth to ask if she needed permission and, if so, what would be an acceptable pace.   The Sheriff said he was only there for security and to ask the ranger.  MS. Kelly asked the Ranger and he told her to ask the festival organizers. The Festival organizer, Wanda Roche told Kelly Jacobs that they rented the entire park including Grenada Lake and no petitions were  allowed so MS. Jacobs  went home.

The next day,  Ms. Jacobs was in a city park in Horn Lake where she was first told that she could ask persons for signatures. Ten minutes later she was told by law enforcement that city ordinance number  0404130 forbids such activity unless she first a permissions from the Parks Administrator.    Apparently she would be arrested for soliciting and/or disturbing the peace if she continued.

I can’t find Horn Lake’s ordinances and the cops would not give her a copy but I did some quick research and found:

Marsh v. State of Ala., 326 U.S. 501, 66 S. Ct. 276, 90 L. Ed. 265 (1946) – Neither a state nor municipality can completely bar distribution of religious or political literature on its streets, sidewalks, and public places or make the right to distribute dependent on a flat license tax or permit to be issued by an official who could deny it at will, nor can a municipality prohibit door to door distribution of literature in view of First and Fourteenth Amendments

People v. Gottfried, 64 Misc. 2d 305, 314 N.Y.S.2d 725 (Crim. Ct. 1970)

Soliciting signatures of passersby in park to petition calling on assembly to repeal abortion laws could not be found to violate park department regulations prohibiting such solicitation without securing permit, in absence of showing that there was any disorder, that traffic was impeded or that defendant did other than seek signatures to his petition; defendant’s conduct fell within constitutional right to petition for redress of grievances

Petition organizers have also faced opposition from circuit clerks.  The other day Jackson County returned a petition with a few spots on it stating it was being returned for having “blood” on it.

This kind of crap irritates the hell out of me.  Public officials have no right to interfere with persons exercising their rights under the First Amendment.   I applaud Kelly and everyone helping her out for working so hard to let the voters decide this issue. I’ve been following their efforts on Facebook via “Legalize Marijuana for Mississippi.”    It’s a closed group but anyone can join.
Also, here’s an open facebook page.
And here’s the cite for people who want to print and circulate petitions.
(Note: this is just the tip of the iceberg with regard to the harassment and First Amendment violations petition supporters have endured.  I’ll do a part two as time allows.)

2 thoughts on “Marijuana legalization proponents and the First Amendment

  1. The corruption and ignorance runs deep in the south. So many working against this movement while lawmakers are sitting back ignoring reform. It’s time to vote out those prohibitionist in office. We are the cannabis community. We will not back down!

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