JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - In November, you will have the opportunity to vote for or against a medical marijuana proposal that worked its way through Mississippi’s grassroots initiative process that allows constitutional issues to be submitted to the voters. It is an expensive, difficult journey to jump through all the hurdles required to appear on the ballot.
Now that the medical marijuana has made it through all those hoops, state leaders are encouraging people to vote against the measure. The state legislature also approved an alternative marijuana initiative that will appear on the ballot, in what most believe is an effort to derail the grassroots plan.
Based on the wording and questions that will appear for the two choices, they have accomplished that goal. To say it is confusing is an understatement.
Polls show a majority of Mississippians believe marijuana should be available for critically ill patients. Unfortunately, like so many issues that languish in our state legislature, state leaders have done nothing to address this issue - instead waiting until now to advance a counter measure.
We have an opioid epidemic in our country with pain pill pushing doctors and pill mill dispensaries. Marijuana advocates say we need another option to help people who are in horrific pain.
Maybe state leaders are right and Initiative 65 is not the best way to implement a medical marijuana program. However, once a group goes through the process of getting on the ballot, that is not the time to come up with an alternate plan.
If our state legislature had done its job, proactively representing the people of Mississippi, creating a thoughtful, well-planned medical marijuana system, Initiative 65 never would have been pursued. Instead, they did nothing and are now reactively responding.
That is not fair to the groups who invest so much time, money and resources to play by the rules only to have the state legislature supplant those efforts. The current public ballot initiative model is flawed. We need to fix it so Mississippians have a grassroots program that can’t be hijacked based on the whims of our state legislature.