TUPELO • Mississippians on Tuesday approved a citizen-sponsored initiative to legalize marijuana for medical use in the state, despite state lawmakers putting a competing, alternative medical marijuana measure of their own on the ballot.
With around 98% of Mississippi's polling precincts reporting, around 67.89% of voters chose to vote in favor of adopting one of two available medical marijuana initiatives, and 74% of people chose to vote in favor of Initiative 65, a proposal which seeks to amend the state Constitution to establish a state-regulated medical marijuana program.
Jamie Grantham, the communications director for Medical Marijuana 2020, said she and the rest medical marijuana coalition “give God the glory and praise for this victory.”
“He made this amazing plant that is helping so many people across the country,” Grantham said. “He provided and blessed this journey every step of the way since we began in 2018. We have prayed diligently that this program would pass, knowing that it will help so many suffering patients and families in Mississippi. God gets the glory for this win. God gets the glory for 65 passing. This is a huge day for Mississippi and I couldn’t be more excited, humbled, or thankful.”
The initiative appeared on the ballot after leaders of a medical marijuana coalition used Mississippi’s convoluted initiative process to place Initiative 65 on the ballot, which required the leaders to gather over 100,000 signatures from qualified voters evenly spread out across the state, and the group ended up garnering over 220,000 signatures from voters.
The approved initiative could allow people to use medical marijuana if they have one of 22 “debilitating medical conditions” such as epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder or debilitating pain. Under the initiative, doctors will have the option to certify that a patient can receive medical marijuana as a form of treatment for one of the conditions.
To be certified for medical marijuana use, a person must physically go to a licensed Mississippi physician, where the doctor may certify a patient as suffering from one of the conditions.
If a physician certifies that a patient can be treated with medical marijuana, the patient would be allowed to purchase a medical marijuana ID card from the Mississippi State Department of Health. This would allow them to purchase medical marijuana from a state-regulated treatment center.
Dr. Matt Wesson, a Tupelo-based ophthalmologist, was a part of the steering committee that crafted the initiative. He told the Daily Journal that he is excited that a new form of medicinal treatment will be available to sick Mississippians.
“I think this is going to be a great benefit to quite a number of Mississippians who need this,” Wesson said. “I think this is going to bring Mississippi into the 21st century.”
As the initiative gained traction across the state, several critics of the measure, including the Mississippi State Medical Association, the Mississippi State Board of Health and law enforcement officials, attempted to dissuade people from voting for the proposal saying that it was a radical initiative that did not offer enough thought-out regulations to administer the program.
But Mississippi will now join over 30 states that have legalized some version of marijuana use. If passed, the state health department will be responsible for developing regulations to administer the program.