Voters in Mississippi have legalized cannabis for medical purposes, furthering the influence of cannabis reforms in the American south.
Initiative 65 is meant to allow qualified patients suffering from any of the listed conditions to register with the state’s health department before they can legally purchase medical cannabis from a licensed provider. The state will be taxing sales from medicinal cannabis at the rate of seven percent. Qualified Mississippi residents will also be allowed to possess as much as 2.5 ounces of the drug.
Still, Initiative 65 was not the only measure on the Mississippi ballot. Initiative 65A, a more conservative and restrictive measure, was also present. The second measure was designed by lawmakers to offer a state-backed approach restricting access to legal medicinal cannabis to terminally ill patients alone.
However, recent polls indicate that most Mississippians support medical cannabis legalization as provided by Initiative 65.
Proponents for legalization were concerned that the presence of the two measures on the ballot might confuse voters.
According to the communications director of the Campaign for Initiative 65, Jamie Grantham, the potential for confusion was deliberate. Speaking at the last hearing held at the Secretary of State’s office in Jackson, Grantham said that the measure was previously presented before legislators over twenty times without success.
Mississippi has a set threshold for the votes required to pass a ballot initiative. Grantham believes that Initiative 65A was placed on the ballot to thwart the first measure’s chances by splitting votes and disqualifying both measures.
Tate Reeves, Mississippi Governor, stated on Sunday that he was not in favor of either measure.
Reeves tweeted that there were good intentions on both sides of the legalization debate but that experts warn that the move would trample local oversight leading to an explosion of marijuana shops. The governor added that his vote was against both initiatives.