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Mississippi Governor Slams ‘Liberal’ Medical Marijuana Ballot Measure As Being Driven By ‘Stoners’

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The governor of Mississippi is not happy about the medical marijuana measures on his state’s ballot this week, saying they are favored by “stoners.”

“There are good folks on all sides of the medical marijuana debate. Most non-stoners say we should be careful & deliberate,” Gov. Tate Reeves (R) tweeted. “Initiative 65 is the opposite.”

“Experts say it would mean the most liberal weed rules in the US! Pot shops everywhere—no local authority,” he said.

Under the measure’s text, municipalities can enact local zoning ordinances and regulations on medical cannabis businesses, but they can be “no more restrictive than those for a licensed retail pharmacy” or for “other comparably sized and staffed lawful commercial or industrial businesses.”

The governor said he will be “voting against both” the activist-driven measure as well as a more restrictive alternate placed on the ballot by lawmakers.

Last month, Reeves signed modest legislation that amended state law to allow people to obtain marijuana-derived medications that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. At the time, he reiterated his opposition to broader medical cannabis reform, stating that he’s “against efforts to make marijuana mainstream.”

While polling has showed clear support for the activist-led measure, Mississippians for Compassionate Care has faced opposition from multiple angles.

Beyond the alternative’s inclusion and the resulting confusing, two-step ballot question voters are facing, activists also saw a last-minute legal challenge, with the mayor of the city of Madison asking the state Supreme Court to invalidate the cannabis measures because she said they were unlawfully placed before voters. The suit did not weigh in on the merits of the proposal.

But while the court initially instructed the secretary of state to promptly respond to the emergency petition, Chief Justice Michael Randolph rescinded the earlier order and instead asked that the official weigh in by November 6—three days after the election.

The Mississippi State Medical Association and American Medical Association circulated a sample ballot that instructed voters on how to reject Initiative 65.

Advocates also faced a public relations challenge when President Trump’s reelection campaign sent them a cease and desist letter, demanding that they stop using accurate quotes from the president in support of medical cannabis in mailers and campaign materials.

In June, lawmakers introduced yet another medical cannabis alternative resolution that would’ve posed an additional threat to the activist-driven reform initiative. But the legislation didn’t advance before lawmakers went home for the summer.

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Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 20-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

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