A large majority of Mississippians have voted to legalize medical marijuana. With more than 70% of votes counted as of 11 p.m., about 67% of the state’s voters have opted to legalize medicinal weed with votes for Initiative 65.
“I speak on behalf of my entire team when I say we want to give God the glory and praise for this victory,” said Jamie Grantham, head of the pro-medical marijuana organization, Mississippians for Compassionate Care. “He started this. He made this amazing plant that is helping so many people across the country. … This is a huge day for Mississippi and couldn’t be more excited, humbled, or thankful.”
The initiative amends the state constitution to allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to treat patients at their discretion. Under the amendment, the Mississippi State Department of Health will control the program, which will include a number of regulations that ensure it does not result in the kind of broad access to marijuana that states with legal recreational marijuana, like Colorado, have implemented in recent years.
A number of state officials, including the governor and Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, had spoken out against the measure.
After more than 200,000 Mississippians signed a petition to get the issue on the ballot, the Legislature made the ballot initiative a confusing two-part process, requiring voters to first approve either “Initiative 65” or “Initiative 65A.”
The second, 65A, would have theoretically legalized medical marijuana, but included no regulations nor requirements or deadlines for implementing it. Voters chose the first option, 65 by a three-to-one margin.
“I am so proud of Mississippi,” said Angie Calhoun, a Mississippian whose son could qualify for treatment with medical marijuana. “Initiative 65 is going to change the lives of thousands of qualified patients—just like my son, Austin. This is victory for those patients and their families.”
Under Amendment 65, Mississippi must begin issuing medical marijuana cards to people with 22 qualifying conditions by Aug. 15, 2021.