Editor’s note: This is one of five states with cannabis legalization for medical or adult use on the ballot today.
Mississippi voters have legalized cannabis for medical use, continuing the spread of cannabis law reform in the Deep South.
Voters passed Initiative 65, a grassroots effort, which will allow medical cannabis patients who qualify with one of more than twenty conditions to register with the Department of Health to legally buy medical cannabis at a licensed dispensary. Medical cannabis sales will be taxed at the rate of 7%, and Mississippi residents will also be able to possess up to 2.5 ounces of medical cannabis.
Initiative 65A, the other measure that voters saw, was brought forth by lawmakers, and was a far more conservative approach to regulating medical cannabis. It would have restricted legal medical cannabis access to only terminally ill patients.
Polling shows that a majority of Mississippi residents support medical cannabis legalization. Still, advocates were concerned that voters might be confused by seeing two initiatives.
Jamie Grantham, the communications director for the Medical Marijuana 2020 Campaign for Initiative 65, said at a final hearing hosted by the Secretary of State’s office at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson that she thought the potential confusion was by design. Grantham also highlighted that medical cannabis has been brought before lawmakers “more than twenty times.”
“When they put 65A to be on the ballot, they robbed the voters a fair up or down vote in an effort to split the votes so that neither measure makes that required threshold to pass,” Grantham said.
On Sunday, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves voiced his opposition to both measures.
“There are good folks on all sides of the medical marijuana debate. Most non-stoners say we should be careful & deliberate. Initiative 65 is the opposite. Experts say it would mean the most liberal weed rules in the US! Pot shops everywhere—no local authority. Voting against both,” Reeves Tweeted.