Misssisippians across the state gathered in six cities last weekend, calling for the Legislature to hold a special session to pass legislation on legalizing medical marijuana. Gov. Tate Reeves has said he will call for a special session, but has yet to say when.
The protests were organized by a group called “We are the 74.” The Facebook group has roughly 14,800 members. Cynthia Tigerett, a member of the group who attended the protest in Tupelo, said her involvement in the demonstration was personal.
“I had a friend with stage 4 colon cancer. She weighed 76 lbs. and couldn’t eat or get out of bed. Her grandson talked her into vaping cannabis,” she said. “Within two days, she started eating. She gained 39 lbs. in the following six months, could go to the grocery store and even church on Sunday morning.”
Marijuana has long been touted as a remedy for maladies like pain related to chronic illness and appetite, to name a few. Despite this, the plant is still federally illegal and completely illegal in most states.
“What made me want to protest is the added stress she faced, scared to death the community and the police would find out she was ‘smoking pot.’ She died three weeks ago, terrified of going to jail for a plant that grows wild,” Tigerett said. “We are hoping to destroy the stigma attached to cannabis, making it a mainstream medicine. We are not hoping, but demanding action in accordance with our will and quite frankly, we do not care what Tate Reeves or any other elected official wants. We outvoted all of them.”
“We are the 74” is a nod to the 74% of Mississippians who voted for Ballot Initiative 65 in November 2020, only for it to be overturned by the Mississippi Supreme Court the following May. In late September, Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives Phillip Gunn reported that lawmakers had reached an agreement. Mississippians now wait for the 2022 legislative session or for Reeves to call a special session.
UM senior integrated marketing communications major Austin Green said he believes that legalizing marijuana for medical, and even recreational use, will benefit Mississippi in the long run.
“Other states are gonna do it and we are still putting people in prison for it, yet the state doesn’t even have enough money for its prisons,” Green said. “I think it should be pushed past medicinal to recreational and use that money to put back into state systems.”
If the new legislation is passed and the growth and administration of marijuana for medicinal purposes is legalized in Mississippi, then Mississippi will become the 20th state (plus DC and Guam) to have legalized the flower in some form. All forms of marijuana are still federally illegal.