A Mississippi voter initiative that would legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes is receiving the wrath of Phil Bryant, the state’s former Republican governor who left the statehouse in January after being forced out by term limits. In a self-published op-ed replete with passages in all-caps and paragraphs that rarely exceed two sentences, Bryant urged voters not to approve Initiative 65, which would legalize and create a regulatory system for medical marijuana.
In the op-ed, which was reportedly released on Tuesday but dated November 3, Bryant said that medicinal uses for cannabis do not exist.
“They call it ‘medical marijuana’ and appeal to people’s natural concern for the sick,” he wrote. “Who could be against helping the sick? Well, no one, of course. That’s why it is all BIG MARIJUANA ever talks about, but the U.S. Surgeon General has stated there is no such thing as ‘medical marijuana’ and emphasizes that it’s a ‘dangerous drug.’”
Bryant suggested that the initiative’s prime objective was profit rather than treating people with serious medical conditions.
“If you liked BIG TOBACCO, you are going to love BIG MARIJUANA. It’s the same scheme—just decades later,” Bryant proclaimed. “Sell a product that causes permanent damage to people while claiming it has no ill effects and make as much money as you can for as long as you can. They say it’s about compassion, but follow the money.”
Former Governor Cites ‘Problems’ With Initiative
Bryant noted that because Initiative 65 is an amendment to the state’s constitution, fixing any problems with the measure would be difficult to change and would require another vote of the people, while asserting that “there are plenty of problems” with the initiative.
“This out-of-state industry has devised a scheme to give themselves special protections in our state constitution and they won’t pay any sales taxes—so no money for our schools, roads or cities,” he wrote. “They want a free ride, but there’s good news. We can stop them. All we have to do is vote NO to Initiative 65 and tell the marijuana industry they are not going to get a free ride in Mississippi.”
Bryant apparently believes that he knows better than medical professionals, who would be authorized to recommend the medicinal use of cannabis within the initiative’s limits.
“Doctors would be able to give Mississippians the legal right to smoke five ounces of marijuana per month,” he wrote. “That translates to about 10 joints per day or 300 per month. Whoa! Think of the impact on our workforce, driving safety, and young people.”
“Physicians could certify patients with a broad array of medical conditions to use marijuana, including “pain”. It’s a mighty slippery slope other states have already slid down,” Bryant continued. “Anyone, including teenagers, with a headache could be legally allowed to smoke marijuana.”
The former governor also took issue with provisions of the initiative that would only permit a special 7% sales tax to be levied on medical marijuana purchases, apparently believing that sick people should have to shoulder high costs to obtain their medicine of choice.
“Tobacco, gaming, and alcohol companies share something in common with main street businesses,” Bryant said. “They all pay sales tax to help fund our local and state needs. Big Marijuana not only doesn’t want to pay their fair share, but they want this evasion of taxation enshrined in our state constitution.”
Mississippi voters will see two separate medical marijuana initiatives on their ballots in November. In addition to Initiative 65, voters will also decide on Initiative 65A, a more restrictive measure put on the ballot by the Mississippi legislature in response to Initiative 65.