A measure to legalize medical marijuana in Mississippi has officially qualified for the November ballot.
Four months after activists turned in more than 214,000 signatures for the initiative, the secretary of state’s office confirmed on Wednesday that the group amassed more than enough valid submissions to qualify.
Under the proposal put forth by Mississippians for Compassionate Care, patients suffering from debilitating medical issues would be able to access cannabis after consulting with a physician and receiving a recommendation. The measure lists 22 qualifying conditions such as cancer, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Each patient would be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis per 14-day period.
“We are beyond excited to share that the Secretary of State has officially qualified Ballot Initiative 65 to be on the November 2020 ballot,” Jamie Grantham, communications director for the ballot effort, told Marijuana Moment. “Patients in Mississippi who suffer from qualifying debilitating conditions are a step closer to having access to a treatment option that patients in 34 other states are receiving relief from.”
“This is all about patients,” she said. “There’s no reason why patients who are suffering in Mississippi shouldn’t have the same access to medical marijuana as patients in 34 other states.”
There are still additional, procedural steps that must be followed before the measure is formally placed on the ballot.
“The initiative was filed with the legislature pursuant to Miss. Code Ann. Section 23-17-29,” Anna Moak, senior counsel and interim communications director with the secretary of state’s office, told Marijuana Moment in an email.
Following the submission of the text of the initiative to the legislature, lawmakers now have four months to approve, reject or amend the proposal.
Even if the measure is rejected by the legislature, however, it will still appear on the ballot. If lawmakers amend it, both the original and amended versions will appear, with the latter being marked as an “alternative.” In the event that both versions receive majority support on Election Day in November, the one that receives more votes will prevail.
The Mississippi State Board of Health passed a resolution on Wednesday expressing its “strong opposition” to the proposal.
The Mississippi State Board of Health today passed a resolution opposing the upcoming ballot initiative to place the State Department of Health in charge of medical marijuana in the state. Full text of the resolution: https://t.co/AzUoOpBnnt
— MS Dept of Health (@msdh) January 8, 2020
And while Gov. Phil Bryant (R) and other leaders have also voiced opposition to medical cannabis legalization, polling shows that upwards of 77 percent of residents back the reform move. Currently, the state has a CBD program, but access is limited due to restrictions on who can provide the non-intoxicating oil.
The Mississippi medical cannabis measure is the fourth marijuana question to have qualified for a 2020 state ballot so far.
A marijuana legalization initiative qualified for South Dakota’s ballot on Monday, and a separate medical cannabis measure will also go before that state’s voters in November.
New Jersey’s legislature approved a resolution last month that will put the question of full marijuana legalization to voters.
Advocates expect to see several other cannabis reform measures qualify for ballots in states around the country this November. That’s in addition to a number of expected actions by state legislatures.
Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.