Mississippians voted to approve medical marijuana in the state Tuesday, voting in favor of the creation of a medical marijuana program and to approve Initiative 65.
Medical marijuana’s appearance on Mississippi ballots has been a point of discussion for months, and many people criticized the way the initiatives were presented on the ballot. Mississippians were asked to choose whether or not they would approve a medical marijuana program, then they were asked to choose between Initiative 65 and Initiative 65A.
Initiative 65 is a ballot initiative that gained the signatures of over 200,000 Mississippians in order to be placed on the ballot. Now, an amendment to the state constitution will create a medical marijuana program. 65A was the competing initiative that was placed on the ballot by the state legislature following Initiative 65’s qualification.
Proponents of 65 said that the state legislature put 65A on the ballot to confuse voters and split the vote.
Initiative 65 will create a system of self-funded medical marijuana growing operations and dispensaries administered by the Mississippi State Department of Health for patients who qualify by having one of 22 listed conditions. After a consultation with a medical doctor, patients will be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana at once, and a sales tax rate of 7% will be placed on medical marijuana sales.
Opponents of Initiative 65 pointed to the concern that local governments would not be able to zone medical marijuana dispensaries because they would be overseen by the state health department. Though, the initiative does stipulate that treatment centers can not be located within 500 feet of a school, church or childcare establishment.