Mississippi’s November Ballot Will Include Two Medical Marijuana Initiatives

Mississippi’s November Ballot Will Include Two Medical Marijuana Initiatives

Not one, but two medical marijuana initiatives are set to appear on the ballot this November in Mississippi.

Initiatives 65 and 65A would amend Mississippi’s state constitution to allow patients with certain qualifying conditions to access medical marijuana after having been approved by a licensed physician.

The process of getting these amendments on the ballot began in September 2019, when the Medical Marijuana 2020 campaign submitted 214,000 signatures collected from local Mississippians in support of the initiative. In order for an initiated constitutional amendment to make it to the ballot in The Magnolia State, sponsors are required to garner signatures equal to 12 percent of the total votes in the previous year’s gubernatorial race. For 2020, the number required was 86,185.

When voters show up to the polls in November, they will face a two-part question. First, they will be asked to vote for “either measure” if they support either initiative 65 or 65A, or “neither measure” if they want neither measure to pass.

Regardless of the answer to the first question, voters will then be asked which of the two initiatives they prefer. If the “either measure” gets the most votes, then the version of the initiative that received majority support will be enacted.

The Differences Between 65 and 65A

Initiative 65 contains much more specific language regarding the stipulations around who can use medical marijuana, and how much they can possess at a time, than its alternative 65A.

Under initiative 65 there are 22 specified conditions that could qualify a patient for access to medical marijuana including cancer, epilepsy, PTSD, HIV, and more. Patients would be allowed to possess 2.5 ounces at a time, and would be prohibited from smoking cannabis in public spaces. Medical marijuana sales would be taxed at the state’s current sales tax rate of 7 percent, and the costs of a medical marijuana patient ID card would be capped at $50.

In contrast, Initiative 65A makes no specifications for qualifying conditions, tax rates, possession limits, restricts medical marijuana usage only to “terminally ill patients,” and would require medical marijuana treatments to be overseen by a physician. Because of the vagueness of the language in 65A, many of these details would need to be decided by the state legislature. House Democrats have made the argument that 65A is “designed to confuse voters by placing a similar initiative on November’s ballot to dilute the vote to legalize medical marijuana. … The sole intention of HCR 39 [65A] is to mislead and confuse voters and kill a measure for which the majority of Mississippians are in favor.”

Support for Initiative 65

In a poll conducted by Millsaps College and Chism Strategies, 67 percent of Mississippians expressed support for an initiative that would allow patients to use medical marijuana.

State Representative Joel Bomgar (R) has come out in support of the initiative saying, “legalizing medical marijuana just makes sense.” 

Representative Bomgar is quoted saying:

“Almost everybody seems to know somebody who could have benefited from medical marijuana or who lives in another state and did benefit from medical marijuana. When you have almost everybody in Mississippi that knows somebody, has an experience, or knows someone in another state, it just starts to make no sense to anyone that 33 states allow medical marijuana and Mississippi is one of 17 that does not.”

Opposition to Initiative 65

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell is worried that legalized medical marijuana would make more work for the officers in his department. Ezell said, “The sheriff’s office now answers between 26 and 2,800 calls a month. You add marijuana to this mix and, you know the teenagers and young adults, they’re gonna get it. It’s just like we talked about earlier with the brownies and the gummies and all the things they bring back from Colorado. We’ve made a number of arrests since I’ve been in office.”

Member of the Mississippi State Department of Health’s board of directors, Edward Langton, doesn’t believe Initiative 65 is the right way to bring medical marijuana to his state and is skeptical of its proponents. “Wealthy millionaires are trying to establish a new industry, a cartel in Mississippi for marijuana. That’s basically what it boils down to. When people spend $3 million, you can’t say they woke up that morning to be compassionate and provide something medical for people, to make them better.” Langton said.

German Government Begins Medical Cannabis Cultivation

German Government Begins Medical Cannabis Cultivation

In some of the most significant international cannabis legislation of 2015, Germany approved the creation of a special government agency to oversee the production of medicinal cannabis in the European nation. This progressive move puts the German government in the business of producing and making available high-quality medicinal cannabis via safe access to thousands of its severely ill citizens.

“This paves the way for the first cultivation of medicinal cannabis in Germany,”

wrote the German Hemp Association (Deutscher Hanfverband, or DHV) in a press release, which continued, “[this] helps not only…patients, but allows also new economic prospects for Germany.”

The legislation does not, however, allow individual Germans to grow their own cannabis medicine. It also limits legal availability of cannabis to a very small group of patients, covering only two ailments.

The exact means by which cannabis and possibly cannabis infused products, like concentrates and edibles, will be made available to patients is still unresolved. It is unknown if Germany will adopt a program involving retail outlets, if it will ship cannabis directly to patients, or if it will limit them to gaining access to legal cannabis medicine via a licensed physician or pharmacy.

federal medical marijuana ban lifted

Germany, which embraces a culture of robust capitalism and self-reliance, views the move as a way to decrease dependence on cannabis imports, and help guarantee a supply of medicine for its patients. A shocking reality of the German program for those in the United States is that it covers the costs of legal cannabis under health insurance for all patients.

Easier Access to Cannabis

Georg Wurth, a spokesperson for the DHV, stated,

“Easier access to cannabis as a medicine and the covering of the costs by the health insurance companies were long overdue.”

Echoing the arguable shortcoming of the legislation, he continued, “The DHV has long argued for the rights of patients to grow their own cannabis medicine.”

German’s drug commissioner, Marlene Mortler, is managing the program to produce and make available cannabis medicine to two primary groups of patients: Terminally ill pain patients and those with hyperactivity disorder. Prior to passage of this legislation, cannabis medicine was imported into Germany from Dutch cultivators in the Netherlands.

The new legislation is an amendment to Germany’s Narcotics Act. This is the first time that the cultivation of cannabis has been under state control in the country known for its engineering and technical prowess that is home to companies like BMW, Bayer, Siemens, and Sennheiser. Political forces in the nation (which — along with the United Kingdom — is typically the largest and healthiest economy in Europe) have been hesitant to allow personal cultivation due to a belief that both the quality and quantity of home grown cannabis could “easily evade state control.”

german-government-begins-medical-cannabis-cultivation-1

Will this legislation be the genesis of a more permissive and compassionate legal medical cannabis environment in Germany that will serve more than simply terminally ill pain patients and those suffering from hyperactivity disorder? Currently, the legislation reflects medical cannabis laws in many conservative U.S. states that allow only CBD oil and cover a very limited number of conditions (sometimes only epilepsy or seizure disorders).

Hopefully Germany and its lawmakers will embrace medical cannabis for a wider range of diseases and eventually allow home cultivation so that patients may grow specific strains of pot to best treat their particular symptoms. With more than 1,000 strains having been bred to date, a targeted efficacy approach is critical to best treat severely ill patients with cannabis.

Concluded the DHV:

“Finally, the German economy is not decoupled from international development and can [create] its own cannabis industry.”

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']