Medical marijuana will be on Mississippi’s November ballot

Updated: Sep. 8, 2020 at 7:13 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -You’ll be asked if you support establishing a medical marijuana program in the state on this November’s ballot.

If Mississippi legalizes medical marijuana, it will become the 35th state to do so. The issue will be on November’s ballot in the form of a proposed constitutional amendment.

“There’s no reason to be against a patient being able to go to their doctor and have a conversation about a potential treatment option," said Jamie Grantham, communications director for Medical Marijuana 2020 Campaign for Initiative 65 . "And there is no reason why a doctor should not be able to use their professional judgment to recommend a treatment that is helping so many across the nation if it could benefit their patients.”

Initiative 65 would require an ID card issued by the state department of health that would allow them to pick up the marijuana at a licensed treatment center. They’d be allowed 2.5 ounces every two weeks. Some Mississippians say it could’ve helped their family members who were never able to have the option.

“Don’t just hear the word marijuana and run," Marilyn Tinnin, founder of Mississippi Christian Living Magazine. "I almost did.”

But the legislature argued the referendum is too lenient and adopted an alternative, Initiative 65A. That version limits smoking marijuana only to those who are terminally ill. Other products would be available to those with serious conditions. It also doesn’t give a timeline for getting the program established. Initiative 65 folks say it’s designed to confuse voters and ultimately kill the measure.

Some argue medical marijuana isn’t the answer and shouldn’t be in the state constitution.

“The State Board of Health unanimously opposes initiative 65 because we think it’s the wrong way to help patients in Mississippi get the care they need,” explained Board of Health member Jim Perry.

Initiative 65 would be self-funded with user fees that would help operate the program. Supporters say that way only those participating pay into it but opponents say they should pay sales taxes like other businesses.

“If this is medicine, it should be treated like any other medicine and that means not giving them a sweetheart deal in the state constitution,” said Perry.

The Secretary of State’s office has announced a series of public hearings on the topic that will begin at the end of the month and last through the first part of October.

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