Missouri’s election next fall may still seem like it’s a long ways off, but activists are hard at work to get the chance to ask voters to help the cause at the polls.

Petition drives are focusing on a long, long list of potential ballot issues. That ranges from banning cellphones while driving to change how the law deals with a particular drug.

“There are multiple initiatives out there on legalizing marijuana both for recreational and medicinal use,” says Dr. Nicole Shoaf, MSSU Political Sciences professor.

Marijuana supporters have been active, even passing petitions in Joplin recently. But beyond the potential to change drug laws, other initiatives could affect the minimum wage or what paid sick time employees are entitled to. A long list of issues is in the stage of collecting signatures.

“There’s a good 100, 150 lines there. And so there are a lot of petitions that are circulating in the state right now. On average, we only get somewhere between two and six of these,” says Dr. Nicole Shoaf.

A constitutional amendment requires 8% of voters in 6 of 8 congressional districts, or 160 – 175,000 signatures. One of those petitions would ban using a cell phone while driving unless it’s hands free.

Other efforts target a 10 cent gas tax hike, change the rules for hunting big game and the election of judges. There’s even a petition being circulated about how you can circulate a petition.

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft says it would amend the state constitution to quote allow Missourians to petition at the public entrances of all state funded operations that are open to the public. To make the ballot, petitions must be submitted by May 6th.

That starts the process to check signatures and verify there are enough. Any issues that meet the requirements would go on the November 6th ballot.