The folks over at Show-Me Cannabis just can't catch a break.
First, they came up short on signatures for their statewide legalization and regulation bill. Then, the Springfield City Council passed their marijuana decriminalization bill to keep it off the November ballot, then voted to kill it.
Now, as the group prepares to dust itself off and get the wheels turning on a statewide legalization bill for 2014, they can't even host a damn trivia night in peace.
"We had reserved the room with a $200 deposit, all that stuff," says John Payne, the group's treasurer. "And then yesterday I got an e-mail."
Though the pro-marijuana group is still strategizing, the trivia-game event was meant to serve as the kickoff for the all-but-certain legalization ballot initiative campaign for 2014. About a dozen of the $200, eight-player tables were already rented for the October 20 date. No toking at the table -- the players were going to be drinking beer and wine, and there were only going to be a couple of marijuana-themed rounds. Payne says they worked through a party-planning service to book the venue, Elk Lodge Oakville, and sent in a deposit check in early September with the name of the organization clearly printed across the top.
Seems the Elks didn't put two and two together for nearly a month. But when they did, someone apparently decided they couldn't be associated with an event promoting the legal sale of pot.
"Yesterday I got an email from the firm helping us plan the event. They said the Elks Lodge had backed out of it because of the nature of the cause," says Payne.
That sent Payne scrambling to find a new venue with only two weeks to go. Luckily, they've managed to find a more accommodating albeit smaller venue in Bar 101 in Soulard.
Payne says he doesn't blame the Elks, he blames the system.
"I'm not really mad at them. I think I understand their concern. Basically they think this could possibly attract unwanted legal attention to them," he says. "This is what we have to face when we deal with this issue. People are terrified of it. It restricts our First Amendment rights to political speech."
Daily RFT left a message with the lodge but has yet to hear back.
Update: According to Payne's party coordinator, the Elks are just thinking of the children. Here's an excerpt of the planner's e-mail to Payne:
They did know the name of the group as that was on the contract. What I was told was that the board decided that it was a conflict with the no drug policy they have while working with kids.
That was only thing stated. Honestly I did not think it was a very good excuse especially since they had approved it and taken the deposit.
The event is moving forward, regardless, and so is the campaign. As soon as they fully commit to the 2014 campaign, and Payne says they almost certainly will, the signature gathering will begin in early 2013.