JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippians will vote either for or against two medical marijuana initiatives on November 3: Initiative 65 or Alternative 65A.
What’s the difference?
Initiative 65 allows patients with at least one of the 22 debilitating medical conditions to use medical marijuana, under the approval of Mississippi licensed physicians and licensed treatment centers.
The Mississippi State Department of Health would have full control over the medical marijuana program.
Patients could possess up to 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana at a time. Marijuana sales under Initiative 65 would be taxed at the state’s tax rate.
Alternative 65A would restrict medical marijuana to terminally ill patients and would require pharmaceutical-grade marijuana products to have oversight by licensed physicians, nurses, and pharmacists.
This initiative would give the state legislature the control to set the tax rate, possession limits, location of pot shops, and more.
Both Initiative 65 and Alternative 65A would amend the Mississippi Constitution to allow the use of medical marijuana for individuals with a debilitating medical condition.
Proponents of Initiative 65
Proponents of Initiative 65 argue that politicians are trying to push Mississippians to vote against medical marijuana.
They point out that more than 228,000 Mississippians signed petitions to put Initiative 65 on the ballot.
“The people of Mississippi signed petitions to put Initiative 65 on the ballot because those legislators at the press conference today have done nothing to advance this issue,” said Mississippians for Compassionate Care Communications Director Jamie Grantham. “On Tuesday, Mississippi can become the 35th state to give patients access to medical marijuana, and we have seen overwhelming support for Initiative 65.”
“Initiative 65 is the only responsible, conservative option on the ballot,” said Ronnie Pollard, former Lieutenant of the Desoto County Sheriff’s Department. “That’s why 76% of Republicans are for it. It sets up specific regulations that law officials can enforce while giving physicians the option to certify patients for medical marijuana in a safe and secure way. The Legislature’s Alternative 65A puts all the decisions in the hands of the politicians, which will likely once again result in no action and no relief for our suffering family members.”
Opponents of Initiative 65
On Wednesday, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said Initiative 65 is the “Wild West” version of medical marijuana.
“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,” Dobbs 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.
However, Dr. Dobbs is in favor of Alternative 65A, which allows the legislature to have more input on how medical marijuana is operated in the state.
In September, the Mississippi State Medical Association (MSMA) and American Medical Association also urged Mississippians to vote “NO” on Initiative 65.
"Physicians advocate for evidence-based solutions,” said MSMA President Mark Horne, MD. “When we were asked to review Initiative 65, it was immediately clear that this is an effort focused on generating profits for an industry that has no ties to the medical or health care community in Mississippi. That is just one of many red flags that makes a NO vote essential.”
Opponents of both Initiatives
The Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Polices, a group of approximately 300 law enforcement leaders, came out against both initiatives.
“As police leaders, we have experienced the effects marijuana... has in our communities,” their statement reads, “The long term consequences of a constitutional amendment to address this need will have detrimental impacts to the communities we are protecting.”
The officers encourage voters to research the initiative themselves before casting their ballot, stating they are against both Initiative 65 and 65A.
Mississippians will make their choice on the initiatives as they head to the polls on Tuesday, November 3.
How to Vote
Mississippi Ballot Measure 1 will include two versions of a medical marijuana amendment, Initiative 65 and Alternative 65A.
Voters who vote for “either measure” signify that they would like either initiative to pass, allowing the use of medical marijuana by qualified patients. They must then proceed to a second question to choose their preferred version.
Voters who vote for “neither measure” signify that they would like neither measure to pass. They can still proceed to the second question to choose their preferred measure in the event that “either” receives more votes.
To learn more:
To learn more about Initiative 65, visit www.medicalmarijuana2020.com.