SUPREME COURT OF MISSOURI
Case Number: SC96008
Judge: Zel Fischer
Court: SUPREME COURT OF MISSOURI
Plaintiff's Attorney: Evan J. Buchheim
Defendant's Attorney: Anthony Muhlenkamp
Description: St. Louis City police detectives went to Shanklin's residence after a "utility inquiry"
showed excessive electricity use consistent with marijuana cultivation. Shanklin answered
the door and consented to a search. Police discovered more than 300 live marijuana plants.
Police also discovered several hundred grams of packaged marijuana, a mesh dryer, and a
digital scale commonly used to prepare and package marijuana for distribution. Shanklin
told police he was growing marijuana to help pay off his stepchildren's debts and for his
The State charged Shanklin with producing a controlled substance in violation of
§195.2112 (Count I), possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute in
violation of § 195.211 (Count II), and possession of drug paraphernalia in violation of
§195.233 (Count III).3 Shanklin filed a motion to dismiss Counts I and II arguing
§§ 195.211 and 195.0174 are unconstitutional, both facially and as applied, because the
statutes violate the constitutional right to farm guaranteed by article I, section 35.
The circuit court overruled Shanklin's motion to dismiss. The circuit court found
beyond a reasonable doubt Shanklin was guilty of the charged offenses and sentenced him
to concurrent terms of five years' imprisonment on Counts I and II and one year on Count
III with the possibility of probation after 120 days pursuant to § 559.115. Shanklin appeals.
2 Statutory citations are to RSMo Supp. 2013, unless otherwise noted. 3 Effective January 1, 2017, § 195.211 was transferred to § 579.055 and § 195.233 was transferred to § 579.074. 4Section 195.017.2(4)(w) and (ee), respectively, classified marijuana and "[t]etrahydrocannabinols naturally contained in a plant of the genus Cannabis (cannabis plant)" as Schedule I controlled substances.
Standard of Review
"Challenges to the constitutional validity of a state statute are subject to de novo
review." Hill v. Boyer, 480 S.W.3d 311, 313 (Mo. banc 2016). A statute is presumed
constitutional and will be found unconstitutional only if "it clearly and unambiguously
contravenes a constitutional provision." Lopez-Matias v. State, 504 S.W.3d 716, 718 (Mo.
banc 2016). "The person challenging the validity of the statute has the burden of proving
the act clearly and undoubtedly violates the constitutional limitations." State v. Vaughn,
366 S.W.3d 513, 517 (Mo. banc 2012).
Article I, Section 35
In 2013, the General Assembly passed a joint resolution referring a constitutional
amendment to voters to add section 35 to article I of the Missouri Constitution. Shoemyer
v. Mo. Sec'y of State, 464 S.W.3d 171, 173 (Mo. banc 2015). In 2014, Missouri voters
approved 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.
Shanklin argues that, as a result of this amendment, his marijuana cultivation and
harvest was constitutionally protected. Shanklin claims §§ 195.211 and 195.017 are
unconstitutional as applied to what he contends is a "farming practice" protected by article
I, section 35.
When construing a constitutional amendment, the "fundamental purpose of
constitutional construction is to give effect to the intent of the voters who adopted the
Amendment." Sch. Dist. of Kan. City v. State, 317 S.W.3d 599, 605 (Mo. banc 2010)
(internal quotation marks omitted). "This Court's primary goal in interpreting Missouri's
constitution is to ascribe to the words of a constitutional provision the meaning that the
people understood them to have when the provision was adopted." State v. Honeycutt, 421
S.W.3d 410, 414-15 (Mo. banc 2013) (internal quotation marks omitted). "Words used in
constitutional provisions are interpreted to give effect to their plain, ordinary, and natural
meaning." Wright-Jones v. Nasheed, 368 S.W.3d 157, 159 (Mo. banc 2012).
Article I, Section 35 Does Not Protect Marijuana Cultivation
Article I, section 35 consists of a prefatory sentence and an operative sentence. The
prefatory sentence recognizes "agriculture which provides food, energy, health benefits
and security is the foundation and stabilizing force of Missouri's economy." The prefatory
sentence does not provide a constitutional right to engage in unregulated "agriculture." It
simply provides a purpose and context for the amendment.
The operative clause of article I, section 35 provides "the right of farmers and
ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall forever be guaranteed" in order
"[t]o protect this vital sector of Missouri's economy," subject to local government
regulation as authorized by article VI of the Missouri Constitution. When a constitutional
provision includes prefatory and operative language, "[l]ogic demands that there be a link
between the stated purpose and the command." District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S.
570, 577 (2008). The scope of constitutionally protected farming and ranching practices
is, therefore, informed by the prefatory clause of article I, section 35, as including those
practices that are part of the agricultural sector of Missouri's economy. The amendment
includes no language suggesting Missouri voters intended to nullify or curtail longstanding
laws regulating or prohibiting possession, cultivation, and harvest of controlled substances.
See United States v. White Plume, 447 F.3d 1067, 1074 (8th Cir. 2006). Further, because
the amendment expressly recognizes farming and ranching practices are subject to local
government regulation, it would be absurd to conclude Missouri voters intended to
implicitly nullify or curtail state and federal regulatory authority over the illegal drug trade.
The plain, ordinary, and natural meaning of article I, section 35 demonstrates no purpose
to sub silentio repeal laws criminalizing the cultivation or possession of controlled
When the General Assembly passed a joint resolution proposing article I, section
35, and Missouri voters adopted it, marijuana cultivation, possession, and distribution had
been illegal in Missouri for decades. It necessarily follows that Shanklin's marijuana
cultivation operation was not a farming practice to be protected by article I, section 35.
Therefore, Shanklin failed to meet his burden of proving §§ 195.211 and 195.017 were
clearly and undoubtedly unconstitutional on their face or as applied to him.
Outcome: The circuit court's judgment is affirmed.