Voters in a Southern state will decide on Tuesday whether to legalize the use of what is being described as "marijuana for medicinal purposes."
Magnolia State voters will see two initiatives on the November 3 ballot that involve "medical marijuana": Initiative 65 and Initiative 65A.
- Initiative 65 is a grassroots effort to allow for 2.5 ounces of smokable marijuana every 14 days or 10 joints a day. All tax revenue will go toward establishing and maintaining the marijuana industry in Mississippi. None of the revenue will go to the general fund for education and infrastructure, and the cost for medical marijuana patient ID cards would be capped at $50. The Mississippi Department of Health would be the administrating agency. As for the ability to smoke marijuana in public places, that would be prohibited, but violations would be capped at $100. If approved, it would amend the state constitution; any changes in the penalty would require another constitutional amendment.
- Initiative 65A, which was created by the Mississippi legislature in opposition to Initiative 65, aims to restrict the ability to smoke marijuana to terminally ill patients. Details on qualifying conditions, possession limits, taxes, cost of ID cards are not specified, but the legislature could grant municipalities exemptions if they do not want marijuana sales in their city.
"We are asking voters in Mississippi to go to the ballot box and vote against both [initiatives]," says Rob Chambers of Tupelo-based AFA Action, the politically active arm of American Family Association.
"While we sympathize with friends and family members of those who suffer from illnesses like seizures and Parkinson's disease, we acknowledge the warnings and negative effects caused by smoking and consuming marijuana."
Regardless how voters vote in the first part of the ballot, Chambers explains they will have the option on the same ballot to choose between 65 and 65A.
"Mississippi shouldn't make smokable marijuana a constitutional right – so we're encouraging people to vote 'against both' on the first part of the ballot," says Chambers. "[Then] on the second part, a vote for 65A will put the legislature in control of regulating marijuana. Initiative 65 is the marijuana industry's choice. Voting for 65A would help undermine and oppose and hopefully defeat 65."
The Mississippi Baptist Convention Board (MBCB) and the Mississippi State Medical Association are also opposed to both initiatives and are encouraging people to vote no.