I have two points to make in this guest editorial. My first thought is that Mississippi needs a medical marijuana law. It needs to be carefully written by our Legislature, with sensible regulations, to help Mississippians with debilitating pain.
My second point is that approval of Initiative 65, on the Nov. 3 ballot, would be a terrible mistake.
There are many problems with Initiative 65. Here is one: A basic rule in understanding power politics is, “Follow the money.” Who will benefit financially from any major change in public policy? In this case, the answer is large out-of-state companies which make huge amounts of money selling marijuana. That is why they have contributed a big portion of the approximately $5 million being spent to put Initiative 65 into our constitution.
Which brings me to the next point: This 7-page proposal is too long and is filled with poorly considered details. It would be absurd to put it in our constitution. Major policy changes in state law always need to be tweaked and fine-tuned in future years. Constitutional provisions are very hard to change – much harder than laws passed by our Legislature. Initiative 65 is wholly inappropriate to be placed in our constitution.
My next point is, by putting unreasonably favorable provisions into our constitution, the marijuana industry would prevent effective regulation of marijuana sales in our state. Even western states which have legal recreational marijuana allow local governments to “opt out” and stop marijuana shops from locating in their communities. Not so in Mississippi! Under Initiative 65, no town or county in our state would have the authority to prevent marijuana stores from opening up on their main street.
What about taxes? This proposal is ridiculous. Initiative 65 says marijuana would be charged a fee equal to our