JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Next week, Mississippians will vote on two medical marijuana initiatives.
The issue has sparked debate over what impacts communities could feel if marijuana dispensaries are opened up.
Today State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs shared his opinion Wednesday.
“Are there some potential benefits from medical cannabis? Yeah there are," Dr. Dobbs said.
If initiative 65 is approved, the Mississippi State Department of Health would have full control over the medical marijuana program.
“People are going to come back to the health department and say, ‘hey, this is not what I wanted, can y’all fix it? Y’all need to fix it.’ But we will not be able to fix it,” he said, “because it’s written in such a way as to almost be unregulatable. It is a Wild West version of medical marijuana that’s going to make pot available pretty much in every community."
Dr. Dobbs also has concerns that the state won’t reap any tax benefits from the drug sales, and that dispensaries could pop up anywhere.
“It supersedes local government such that, and read it, it says that anywhere you can have a dispensary or a pharmacy may operate or any other businesses, you cannot restrict zoning from medical marijuana shops, so local communities will not be able to restrict how many and where these things are located," he said.
Dr. Dobbs says he prefers the alternative 65A, but believes all voters should read the language that would change our state constitution.
“At least if we had a 65A alternative if you wanted medical marijuana, you could at least have it structured in a way that allowed for evolution. It would allow for correction of any sort of missteps that go through the process. It would allow for more input and how it’s operated,” said Dr. Dobbs.
Supporters of the medical marijuana initiative say it would provide safe and effective treatments for cancer patients, even those suffering from ALS.
Keyshawna Smith went out of state to get her child treatments.
“Not using something that he ingested into his body, just a topical made the vast difference on being able to go outside and play and have fun versus being in bed all day," Smith said.
Voters will weigh in themselves on medical marijuana when they go to the polls next week.