Medical marijuana politics heating up ahead of election day

Updated: Oct. 21, 2020 at 7:03 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -You’ve probably noticed more TV ads and mailers for those both for and against Initiative 65. Something interesting to note when you sort through all the politics at play? Many of those who oppose Initiative 65 don’t oppose medical marijuana.

More than 100,000 Mississippians have their names tied to the push for medical marijuana. That’s how it ended up on the ballot.

“It’s compassionate," said Jamie Grantham, Mississippians for Compassionate Care Communications Director. "We want patients and their doctors to be able to make the medical decisions, right? Not our government.”

That compassion is what prompted many to sign the petition.

“I’m one of those people," said radio host JT Williamson.

JT Williamson says watching his father die of ALS played a big part in that decision.

“It’s the worst possible way you could ever see someone pass away and if anything could’ve helped him be more comfortable, I would’ve absolutely been 100 percent for it," explained JT Williamson host of The JT Show. "And that had a lot to do with my decision to sign the petition. But then I started unpacking it.”

Williamson since received a lymphoma diagnosis and has been battling it since January.

“I still am in favor of medical marijuana. I’m just not in favor of Initiative 65 because there is no overreach.There is no way that we can change any bad part of this constitutional amendment and that’s the part that I don’t like.”

Lawmakers argued the measure was too lenient and put legislative alternative 65A on the ballot. Those who helped gather signatures the last few years make this note.

“It’s a low down dirty trick to split the vote because the people have already spoken," noted Jonathan Brown, U.S. Air Force Veteran and Initiative 65 supporter. "See we saw the inaction of our leaders and we stepped around them using the ballot initiative process and in Mississippi that means amending the state constitution.”

That’s the answer to the question of why the state constitution, the group says they were tired of waiting on the legislature to act.

Money is the other point of contention. 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 argue it should include sales tax. Initiative 65 supporters say sales tax on prescription medications are illegal in the state of Mississippi and the initiative was written the same way.

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