Medical marijuana will be on the ballot for Mississippi voters in November, but the choices may be confusing.
There will be three options for Mississippi voters on the ballot. First, voters will choose to approve or reject the creation of a medical marijuana program in Mississippi. Second, they will be able to reject or approve Initiative 65 and Initiative 65A. Those who choose to reject the creation of a medical marijuana program will still be able to reject or approve 65 and 65A on their ballots. However, for either of these programs to actually be created, the vote for creation of a medical marijuana program must pass.
Initiative 65 began with Medical Marijuana 2020, a grassroots organization that gained over 200,000 signatures on a petition to put the initiative on the ballot. If passed, it would create an amendment to the state constitution.
Initiative 65 would create a system of self-funded medical marijuana dispensaries administered by the State Department of Health. Patients would qualify by having a consultation with a physician and one of 22 listed conditions. In addition, patients would be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces at once, and a sales tax rate of 7% would apply to sales.
The state legislature added Initiative 65A to the ballot as an alternative. Opponents of 65A have claimed the state legislature introduced 65A to confuse voters and split the favorable votes that 65 might gain without it.
Initiative 65A would only allow terminally ill patients to smoke marijuana and does not have specifications for qualifying conditions, possession limits, sales taxes or administering agencies. Funds for medical marijuana would come from the state under 65A, rather than a self-funded system like they would under 65. Proponents of 65A say it would give lawmakers more control over the creation of a medical marijuana program.