When you head to the polls in November to cast your ballot in what some consider the most important Presidential election in this country’s history, a number of other big decisions will be on the ticket as well including medical marijuana.
Initiative 65 proposes to amend the Mississippi constitution to allow qualified patients with medical conditions, certified by licensed physicians to use medical marijuana.
But the ballot may be a little confusing for some.
Initiative 65 will be paired with Alternative Measure 65A, which was introduced by state legislators. Voters will be asked two questions on the ballot in regards to medical marijuana. The first is whether or not to approve either initiative. Then, voters will be asked to choose between Initiative 65 or Alternative 65A.
Voting “either measure” signifies the voter wants either Initiative 65 or Alternative 65A to pass allowing the use of medical marijuana by qualified patients. The voter must then proceed to the second question to choose their preferred version.
Voting “neither measure”, or against both, signifies the voter doesn’t want Initiative 65 or Alternative 65A to pass. The voter can then proceed to the second question to choose their preferred version in the event the “either” option gathers more votes.
Initiative 65 would allow qualified patients with debilitating medical conditions to be prescribed medical marijuana by licensed treatment centers. The action supports approving the medical marijuana amendment as provided by Initiative 65, which would allow medical marijuana treatment for more than 20 specified qualifying conditions, allow individuals to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana at one time, and tax marijuana sales at the current state sales tax rate of seven percent.
Alternative 65A would also legalize medical marijuana in the state, but it would restrict use to terminally ill patients, and require treatment oversight by licensed officials. Voting for Alternative 65A supports approving the legislature’s alternative medical marijuana amendment, which would restrict smoking marijuana to terminally ill patients; require pharmaceutical-grade marijuana products and treatment supervision by licensed physicians, nurses, and pharmacists; and leave tax rates, possession limits, and certain other details to be set by the legislature.
Thirty-three states, including Arkansas, have legalized the use of medical marijuana and 14 of those have set their possession limit at 2.5 ounces per every 14-day period.
The Ballotpedia website placed both items side-by-side for comparison.
On the ballot, Initiative 65 lists the overall first-year cost estimates to the state to be more than $11 million. Anticipated expenses for the first year to implement the program are pegged at more than $24 million. The anticipated revenue from initially starting to legally sell the drug in the state is at $13 million, with $2.5 million for user ID cards, $500,000 for commercial licenses, and sales tax of seven percent bringing in about $10 million.
Alternative 65A does not specify qualifying conditions, possession limits, or a tax rate, leaving these and other details to be set by the state legislature. Alternative 65A would restrict the ability to smoke marijuana to terminally ill patients. It would also require marijuana products to be produced by state-licensed manufacturers at a pharmaceutical grade; treatment to be overseen by licensed physicians, nurses, and pharmacists; and patients to be enrolled in a registry.
Other items on the Nov. 3 ballot include the president/vice president race; the state flag; seats on the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate and Mississippi Supreme Court; and the five Tate County Election Commissioners who are all running unopposed.