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The campaign to make medical marijuana available in Mississippi
53. What is a ballot initiative in Mississippi?
Mississippi’s ballot initiative law allows citizens to directly amend the Mississippi Constitution, and the ballot initiative process itself is set forth in the Mississippi Constitution. For an initiative to be placed on the ballot, a minimum of 86,185 certified signatures must be gathered with at least 17,237 certified signatures from each of the five congressional districts as they existed in the year 2000. The signatures must be certified by county circuit clerks.
54. Do you really think Mississippi could get a medical marijuana program? Will you be able to get enough signatures to put it on the November 2020 ballot?
Absolutely! We have been overwhelmed at the positive response we have received since we began gathering signatures. Thousands of Mississippians agree that we need medical marijuana here in our state. Countless personal testimonies have been shared, and we are growing a community of patients and advocates here in our home state. We need more than 86,000 verified voter signatures on our petitions to put medical marijuana on the ballot. That’s a lot of signatures, but we are well on our way. Every signature counts.
55. How does signing a petition for the Medical Marijuana 2020 ballot initiative work? Is my signature on file as public record?
The signed petitions will be turned in to the circuit clerk’s office in each county, which is where each signer’s voter registration is on public record, in order to verify each person’s signature. While signing a petition is a public record and an official affidavit, it’s no more public than being registered to vote.
56. What is the Medical Marijuana 2020 ballot initiative?
The Medical Marijuana 2020 ballot initiative is a campaign to make medical marijuana available to Mississippians who have debilitating medical conditions in a legal and safe manner. If approved by the voters in November 2020, patients who are suffering will be able to obtain medical marijuana after they are examined by Mississippi licensed physicians and certified to use medical marijuana.
To get the initiative on the November 2020 ballot requires more than 86,000 signatures on petitions. Once the signatures are verified by local officials and the Secretary of State, the proposed amendment will appear on the November 2020 ballot. That amendment, if approved by Mississippi voters, would allow physicians to certify medical marijuana for qualified patients and then allow those patients to obtain medical marijuana in a legal and safe manner from treatment centers licensed and regulated by the Mississippi Department of Health.
A total of 33 other states, including Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida, and Oklahoma have approved the use of medical marijuana. Throughout the country, more than 2.8 million Americans are using medical marijuana to relieve pain and treat other symptoms of debilitating medical conditions.
The Mississippi Department of Health would regulate and enforce the provisions of this initiative in order to ensure safe access and use of medical marijuana for qualified patients.
57. What do physicians in Mississippi think about this initiative, and who else is backing this initiative?
While we cannot speak for all physicians in Mississippi, we can say that this initiative is supported by medical and health care professionals who are part of the steering committee, and that physicians were included in the drafting of the initiative language at MSMA (Mississippi State Medical Association). The steering committee also includes law enforcement representatives, leaders in the faith community, and veterans. Please click here to see the full list of steering committee members.
As a physician, this would be a wonderful tool to have in my toolbelt to be able to certify for patients who meet the qualifications. There is a great deal of research that shows medical marijuana to be beneficial to patients dealing with diseases like cancer, epilepsy, and the other diseases on the approved list. – Dr. Philip Levin, M.D., President of the Mississippi Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians
58. Why is this ballot initiative important?
The goal of this campaign is to provide qualifying patients in Mississippi who are suffering from debilitating medical conditions access to medical marijuana. It would simply serve as an additional tool for doctors to help people who are in pain or who have chronic diseases, for whom medical marijuana would help make it through the day.
Governor Phil Bryant signed a bill into law called “Harper Grace’s Law,” named after a little girl who suffers from a rare type of epilepsy that causes violent seizures, that would legalize the use of CBD oil for certain kinds of medical conditions in 2014. In other states, children like Harper Grace have used medical marijuana to fight the seizures. This ballot initiative will give Harper Grace, and other patients who qualify, access to medical marijuana to provide relief from pain and other symptoms of debilitating medical conditions.
Veterans now account for 20% of all suicides in the United States; 18-22 veterans commit suicide every day, many of them suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Medical marijuana is a safe and effective treatment to assist veterans in managing the debilitating symptoms and effects of PTSD.
Medical marijuana is a much safer alternative to opioids for pain management. It can be used in place of opioids, or in conjunction with opioids (i.e. in some cases, medical marijuana can be used to manage ongoing pain, and if needed an opioid for severe breakthrough pain). Additionally, opioid overdoses are as much as 25% lower in states where medical marijuana is available as an alternative to opioids.
59. Who will be helped by allowing medical marijuana in Mississippi? What debilitating medical conditions will be covered?
Mississippians who have the following debilitating medical conditions would qualify for medical marijuana: cancer, epilepsy or other seizures, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cachexia, post-traumatic stress disorder, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, chronic or debilitating pain, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, glaucoma, agitation of dementias, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, sickle-cell anemia, autism with aggressive or self-injurious behaviors, pain refractory to appropriate opioid management, spinal cord disease or severe injury, intractable nausea, severe muscle spasticity, and similar diseases.