Jackson, MS: Mississippi’s Secretary of State’s Office notified lawmakers on Tuesday that petitioners, Mississippians for Compassionate Care, had gathered a sufficient number of signatures to place a medical cannabis access initiative (Measure 65) before voters this November.
The proposed constitutional amendment establishes a state-licensed system of dispensaries to provide cannabis products to qualifying patients. The measure places no limit on the number of dispensaries and mandates that local municipalities "shall not impair the availability of and reasonable access to medical marijuana." The proposal further mandates that state officials begin providing licenses for retailers no later than August 15, 2021.
According to the Ballotpedia website, Mississippi lawmakers have the opportunity to either adopt of reject the measure prior to the November vote. The legislature may also choose "to approve an amended alternate version of the measure. In this case, both measures would appear on the ballot together."
On Wednesday, the Mississippi State Board of Health today passed a resolution "strongly" opposing the initiative, opining, "Marijuana consumption has numerous known harms and is contrary to the mission of public health."
Under state law, the possession of over 30 grams of cannabis is defined as a felony offense, punishable by up to three years in prison. The proposed initiative permits qualifying patients to possess up to 2.5 ounces (71 grams) of cannabis per 14-day period.
In 2014, state lawmakers passed legislation permitting those diagnosed with intractable epilepsy to possess certain products containing CBD. But the law provides no legal supply source for such products.
Additional information about the campaign is available from Mississippians for Compassionate Care.