Mississippi voters may have not one, but two medical marijuana proposals to decide on come November.
Members of the state’s House of Representatives passed a resolution on Tuesday to place another measure on this year’s ballot as an alternative to Initiative 65, which qualified for the ballot in January.
If approved, Initiative 65 would provide access to medical cannabis for patients suffering from a variety of conditions like cancer and epilepsy. Proponents of the resolution passed Tuesday by the Mississippi state House, which was approved by a 71-49 vote, claim that it is intended to address problems with Initiative 65. But supporters of Initiative 65 contend it is nothing more than an effort to split the vote and prevent medical marijuana from being made legal in the state.
Criticism From Advocates
Mississippians for Compassionate Care, the group that spearheaded the effort to get Initiative 65 on the ballot, slammed lawmakers for passing the new resolution, saying that it “will prevent a fair up-or-down vote on medical marijuana by confusing voters.”
The group singled out Philip Gunn, the Republican speaker of the state house, saying he is “opposed to medical marijuana” and “opposed to a fair vote on the initiative.” Mississippians for Compassionate Care got the measure on the ballot after rounding up hundreds of thousands of signatures from registered voters.
“He used every bit of his power to muscle through the alternative and pressure House representatives to vote with him, even if they supported the people’s right to a fair vote in November,” the group said in a Facebook post.
As the resolution now moves to the state Senate, Mississippians for Compassionate Care is encouraging voters to call their senators and urge them “to reject the legislative alternative and support a fair vote on medical marijuana.”
Under Initiative 65, physicians in the state could start prescribing cannabis to patients suffering from a host of debilitating medical conditions: cancer, epilepsy and other seizure disorders, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, HIV/AIDS, chronic pain, ALS, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, sickle-cell anemia, autism with aggressive or self-injurious behavior, and spinal cord injuries among others. Those patients would then obtain an identification card from the Mississippi Department of Health.
Activists in Mississippi spearheaded the petition drive in the fall of 2018. More than 30 other states have legalized medical marijuana.