Mississippi Voters Will Likely Get to Decide on Medical Marijuana in 2020

After receiving more than enough signatures, Mississippi’s Medical Marijuana 2020 initiative now only needs the signatures to be certified before it’s given the green light for a ballot spot in 2020.

Mississippi residents will more than likely get to decide on a medical marijuana ballot measure in the upcoming Nov. 2020 election. The Medical Marijuana 2020 initiative would allow those diagnosed with one of 22 conditions to legally buy and use medical marijuana products.

The group supporting the campaign, Mississippians for Compassionate Care, went above and beyond the needed number of signatures to turn in by last Friday’s deadline. Cannabis advocates last week submitted more than 100,000 signatures from registered voters favoring the measure. Only 86,000 of those signatures need to be certified by Mississippi’s secretary of state for the measure to be placed on the ballot.

Jamie Grantham, the campaign’s communications director, reported to local news source Clarion Ledger that the group submitted 105,686 signatures on the Wednesday before the Sept. 6 deadline. While the group collected more than 214,000 signatures, just over 105,000 were certified by local clerks.

Likelihood of Passage

Grantham has expressed confidence that Mississippi voters will support the measure if given a chance.

“The polling is extremely positive,” Grantham told the Clarion Ledger. “It polls above 77 percent, with every age group, religious affiliation, political affiliation and other groups. Also, to that point, we saw the overwhelming support from the number of signatures we received.”

According to news reports, support for the initiative from the state’s leaders may be hard to come by. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, along with the Mississippi State Board of Health, have voiced concerns about medical cannabis legalization citing, “a lack of scientific evidence proving the benefits of marijuana treatment outweigh any risks.”

If the measure is approved by voters, Mississippi would join the 33 other states with comprehensive medical marijuana programs. That list includes neighboring states Arkansas and Louisiana.

The difference between Mississippi’s potential medical marijuana program would be the approach. In an interview with Mississippi Business Journal (MBJ), Grantham said the measure calls for a free-market approach, allowing qualified patients to access cannabis as soon as possible after legalization.

“Any business that wants to be licensed to grow or dispense can apply to the Mississippi Department of Health,” Grantham. “If they meet requirements, then they will be a licensed medical marijuana business in Mississippi. Mississippi is a very rural state. Our primary concern as it is a healthcare initiative is for patients to have access to their medicine. Our hope is they will not have to drive a long distance to get to a medical marijuana treatment center.”

As of now, marijuana is illegal in the state. Ironically, the University of Mississippi has been the sole entity federally licensed to produce marijuana for research. Learn more about Mississippi’s marijuana laws.

Who Would Qualify for Medical Marijuana in Mississippi?

Under Mississippi’s Medical Marijuana 2020 initiative, Mississippi residents could be approved for medical marijuana provided they are diagnosed with one or more of the 22 qualifying conditions and they obtain a 12-month certification from a physician.

The debilitating conditions that would qualify a patient for medical marijuana are: cancer, epilepsy and other seizures, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, HIV, AIDS, chronic pain, ALS, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, sickle-cell anemia, autism with aggressive or self-injurious behavior, spinal cord injuries, and similar diseases.

The 12-month certification would grant patients access to a medical marijuana ID card, which would allow residents to obtain medical cannabis from a licensed and regulated treatment center. The Mississippi Department of Health would be charged with regulating the medical marijuana program.

Find more information on the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Amendment (Initiative Measure No. 65) here.

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