In addition to voting for president and a U.S. Senate seat, Mississippi voters will decide on the fate of a possible medical marijuana program in Mississippi on November 3.
There are two on the ballot, Initiative 65 and Initiative 65A, the legislative alternative passed by the Legislature. For either of them to become part of the state’s constitution, they must receive more than 40 percent of votes cast in the election.
The original initiative is supported by Americans for Prosperity, the Mississippi Sickle Cell Foundation, some physicians and politicians on both sides of the political spectrum, including state representatives Joel Bomgar, R-Madison and DeKeither Stamps, D-Jackson.
It is opposed by local governments, law enforcement, Mississippi Realtors, the state Medical Board and the Mississippi Medical Association, along with former Gov. Phil Bryant, House Speaker Philip Gunn, agriculture commissioner Andy Gipson and others.
The final of five statewide hearings was held October 13 and both sides explained why their view should prevail. If the measure passes, Mississippi would become the 35th state to enact a program that advocates say is needed to help those with debilitating pain, seizures or loss of appetite due to various medical conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, sickle cell anemia and multiple sclerosis.
Opponents say that medical marijuana will curb the rights of municipalities to tax and even decide whether they want dispensaries in their areas. An opt-out provision that is allowed in both California and Colorado, both of which have recreational sales as well, which allows municipalities to decide not to allow dispensaries in their communities.
Initiative 65 requires dispensaries to be 500 feet away from schools, churches or licensed child care centers, but doesn’t have an opt-out clause like those two states and mandates that dispensaries be treated no differently