No Constitutional Right To Grow Marijuana

St. Louis City police detectives went to Shanklin’s residence after a “utility inquiry” showed excessive electricity use, consistent with marijuana cultivation. The police discovered more than 300 live marijuana plants, several hundred grams of packaged marijuana, a mesh dryer, and a digital scale commonly used to prepare and package marijuana for distribution.

pig with lipstick

Constitutional Amendment

Shanklin was charged with producing a controlled substance in violation of state law. Shanklin was found guilty and he appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court arguing that the state law was unconstitutional because it violated his constitutional right to farm guaranteed by article I, section 35, which provides:

“That agriculture which provides food, energy, health benefits, and security is the foundation and stabilizing force of Missouri’s economy. To protect this vital sector of Missouri’s economy, the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state, subject to duly authorized powers, if any, conferred by article VI of the Constitution of Missouri.” (Amendment)

The Court reasoned in State of Missouri v, Shanklin, that the first sentence of the Amendment was prefatory and did not provide a constitutional right to engage in unregulated agriculture. The Amendment did not include any language suggesting that it was intended “to nullify or curtail long-standing laws regulating or prohibiting, cultivation, and harvest of controlled substances.” In addition, the Amendment recognizes farming and ranching practices are subject to local governmental regulation making it absurd to conclude that the Missouri voters intended to curtail state and federal regulatory authority over illegal drug trade while allowing local government to regulate the practice. State of Missouri v, Shanklin, (No.  SC96008, 12/5/17)

In an earlier Post, I noted that the hopes of the Missouri Farm Bureau, that the constitutional Amendment, guaranteeing the right to engage in farming and ranching would be interpreted broadly, was dashed by the Missouri Supreme Court in Shoemaker v. Kander. The Court’s statement in  Shoemaker  that “…no constitutional right is so broad as to prohibit all regulation” poured cold water over the Farm Bureau’s effort to make farming a constitutionally protected activity free from regulation.  

 Howard Wright© 2017

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