OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Ocean Springs Mayor Shea Dobson hosted an event Saturday at the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center to collect signatures for the Medical Marijuana 2020 campaign.
“For me, it’s a compassionate issue,” Dobson said. “It’s all about people being able to make the best decisions for their lives as they see fit."
In order for it to appear on the November 2020 ballot, 86,185 registered voters in Mississippi must sign petitions in favor of the initiative. Grassroots Community HQ is heading up the campaign to gather signatures.
“I’ve dealt with PTSD for years, and I’ve seen so many of my fellow brothers and sisters who have come back from war and had to deal with those same kind of issues,” said Jonathan Brown of Grassroots Community HQ. “We know already that medical marijuana is a good treatment for those symptoms from nightmares to suicidality to pain and anxiety.”
If enacted by the voters in the 2020 general election, this amendment to the Mississippi Constitution will create a legal process for physicians in Mississippi to certify the use of medical marijuana for patients with debilitating medical conditions and for those patients to obtain medical marijuana from licensed facilities regulated by the Mississippi Department of Health.
Dobson has been very open about his support for the legalization of medical marijuana. However, he says he is not in support of legalizing recreational marijuana.
In June 2017, Dobson made waves on social media when he made a post pushing for legalization.
"States that have legalized medical marijuana have seen a reduction in opiate overdoses. I think it's necessary to give people options in healthcare," Dobson said in an interview with WLOX at the time. "I think we should be reducing the government's role in healthcare and allowing sick people, people with PTSD and cancer patients, the ability to have the medicine that they see as the best option."
Disabled veteran Dennis Wellington said he supports the petition because as doctors shy away from prescribing opioids, those with chronic pain need a substitute.
“I am a retired vet, 100 percent disabled," said Wellington. "The government keeps on saying less and less opioids. I’ve been on the opioids since 1992. And the only other form of relief is the marijuana.”
Wellington and Brown are happy to see Dobson supporting the cause.
“It’s fantastic,” Brown said. “Mayor Dobson joined our steering committee early on, and he’s been a huge proponent of this campaign in particular for medical patients in the state, and to have municipal leaders like him step up and say this is something that is right for Mississippi and I’m willing to come out and say that publicly, it’s huge for us.”
“I think it’s about time," said Wellington. "We need more public officials to say, ‘hey, it’s not as bad as what they say.’ We hear the propaganda like you do about anything else, but then you see the people that get better by it.”
For more information on the Medical Marijuana 2020 initiative, click HERE.