Residents of the hospitality state could decide if Mississippi medical marijuana is legalized by voting for an initiative on the 2020 ballot. Cannabis activists in the state are extremely close to collecting enough signatures for a petition that would automatically qualify it for a vote. While these signature must be verified by the Mississippi Secretary of State, the reformists will continue garnering signatures to make up for any that are found to be invalid.
If Mississippians vote in favor of medical marijuana legalization in 2020, qualifying patients with certain medical conditions would have to obtain a recommendation for medical marijuana from a licensed physician. The proposal includes 22 medical conditions, including cancer, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain.
Once a doctor approves a patient, they would then need to submit their certification to the Mississippi Department of Health, who will potentially oversee the program, and they will issue a medical-marijuana ID card. Mississippi medical marijuana patients would be able to buy up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for medicinal purposes in a 14-day period.
Communications director of Medical Marijuana 2020, Jamie Grantham, explained that "The patient would be registered into a statewide database that is overseen by the Department of Health. That database is a real-time database where, when the patient goes to a marijuana treatment center and they get their card to be swiped into the facility, they are able to go in and talk with someone to purchase their medication."
So far the campaign known as Mississippians for Compassionate Care has produced close to two-thirds of the required 86,185 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot according to county clerks. Grantham noted that, “We are in the final three-month push to obtain the remaining signatures. The campaign is pleased to report that we’ve met with much support and interest throughout the state regarding medical marijuana as a treatment option for patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions.”
Health Department clinical liaison Jeff Jones is encouraged by the Mississippi Medical Marijuana 2020 campaign. If it gets the votes, he hopes to have the first medical marijuana dispensary ready to operate by the beginning of 2021. He recently remarked, "It's totally different than what our concept of what marijuana is. ... There are going to be strict regulations and guidelines as to how you qualify as a patient."
The Mississippi Health Department will be responsible for drafting regulations and licensing medical marijuana businesses. Jones feels like Mississippi is the most compassionate state in the nation, which will likely get the votes if added to the ballot. Jones pointed out that, "Mississippians, I believe, will approve this because we are helping people that need help that they can't get. We want to help. If we were trying to approve recreational marijuana, I'm not sure it would fly."