Mississippi Lawmakers Take Steps Towards Legalization
Mississippi lawmakers are taking steps to clarify their proposed relatively restrictive medical marijuana system as an alternative to a broader version of activism, fueling a debate over the state's legal status as voters prepare to choose between the two models in November. After Mississippi Compassionate Care (MCC) and its supporters qualified and submitted about 228,000 signatures, lawmakers passed a bill to put competing, if vague, alternatives on the ballot. Advocates fear that this could lead to confusion among residents and jeopardize their chances of success.
A new resolution was introduced to suspend the legislation until lawmakers can bring in a bill to pass a voter-approved, more restrictive version of the medical marijuana system. Activists say the move is just an attempt by lawmakers to prove malevolence, but insiders say if they pass the resolution, which was approved Monday by the Senate Rules Committee, a detailed legalization bill will be introduced and come to a vote in the next few days, insiders said. This would allow voters to opt for a more restrictive version of the medical marijuana system, or a system that voters will recognize when they go to the polls on Election Day. Sen. Dean Kirby (R), who supported the new resolution, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Jamie Grantham, communications director for the MCC, told Marijuana Moment: "This is an attempt to undermine the 228,000 people who have signed the petition to bring this drug to patients who are suffering and deserve it.
The activist-led initiative would allow patients with serious medical problems to obtain legal marijuana on the recommendation of a doctor. The proposal would cover 22 qualifying diseases, including cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, HIV / AIDS and other diseases. Patients would be allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana per person per day, as well as a small amount of cannabis oil.
It also stipulates that marijuana products must have "appropriate pharmaceutical quality," as it says. However, it does not impose any restrictions on non-terminally ill patients such as cancer patients. As it stands, the alternative measure, passed by lawmakers in March, contains far fewer details, according to an Associated Press report.
Phil Bryant (R) expressed opposition to the activist measure, suggesting that lawmakers could pursue an alternative. There has been no movement to clarify the details of the proposed system, said a spokesman for Governor Phil Bryant's office.
It is not clear what kind of law the legislature will introduce and possibly pass, but as MCC's Grantham has already told marijuana Moment, the timing of lawmakers "interest in cannabis reform should not be overlooked. Lawmakers have always had the ability to regulate patient access to marijuana, but they didn't until voters forced the issue through qualifying an activist, voter-oriented measure. Only then did lawmakers take them seriously enough to put several legalization bills on the table.