- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 2, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A new constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to farm doesn’t protect a woman who reportedly grew marijuana in her home, a Missouri judge ruled this week.

Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green ruled against a woman Tuesday whose public defender tried to argue that cultivating marijuana falls under the farming-rights amendment, the Jefferson City News Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/1O8OCcy).

Public defender Justin Carver argued that Green should set aside a grand jury indictment against Lisa A. Loesch. She was charged in 2012 after Jefferson City police arrested her for allegedly growing pot in her basement.

“The conduct alleged in the indictment, even if taken as true, does not give rise to an offense in that the conduct is protected by the Missouri Constitutional right-to-farm,” Carver wrote in an April motion.

Voters added the amendment, which states that “the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state,” to the Missouri Constitution in August 2014.

Green ruled that the amendment only applies to livestock and “legitimate” crop cultivation, and even those practices still are subject to regulations.

The “argument that growing marijuana in a basement constitutes a ‘farming or ranching practice’ goes way beyond the plain meaning of ‘farming or ranching practice,’” Green wrote. “Simply put, marijuana is not considered a part of Missouri’s agriculture.”

Carver also said the right-to-farm amendment removed marijuana from the state’s criminal code, which Green rejected. Green countered Carver’s arguments that laws against growing pot violate state and federal rights.

The ruling came the same day a Missouri man sentenced to life in prison without parole on several marijuana-related offenses was released following a commutation of his sentence by Gov. Jay Nixon. Jeff Mizanskey, 62, said he plans to advocate for legalizing marijuana.

The issue could be posed to voters if backers of several initiative petitions to legalize marijuana collect enough signatures to place the proposals on a ballot in 2016.

Loesch’s next court appearance is scheduled for later this month.


Information from: Jefferson City News Tribune, https://www.newstribune.com

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