Debate over two medical marijuana initiatives on the ballot

Debate over two medical marijuana initiatives on the ballot

GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - When voters head to the polls November 3rd, most attention will be on the presidential race. But, Mississippi voters will also decide whether to legalize medical marijuana in the state.

In a rare move, two proposals will be on the ballot, Initiative 65 and Alternative 65-A and they both address the issue from different angles.

This is what you’ll see on the ballot:

Initiative 65 which allows patients with debilitating medical conditions to use medical marijuana.

Alternative 65-A allows for a program to be established to allow for the medical use of marijuana.

There’s a subtle difference that could either let legalization move forward or stall it. But, Initiative 65 supporter, Jamie Grantham said it’s the right thing to do and it’s time.

“81% of Mississippians support having a medical marijuana program in the state for people who are suffering," Grantham said. "34 other states have medical marijuana programs so there’s no reason why people here should not have that same access.”

Andy Taggart, shares the views of those who think Initiative 65 would cause unintended consequences by actually changing the Mississippi constitution.

“We ought not allow a $14 billion marijuana industry into our state’s constitution," said Taggart. "If folks believe that marijuana should be legal or medical marijuana legal they should take it to the legislature.”

Voters can either vote for approval of both, vote against both, or vote for one.

“We have a sample ballot on our web site, that shows people they need to vote for approval of either on the first question," said Grantham. "They must also vote on the second question for initiative 65. Both questions have to be answered.”

Grantham said opponents have 'muddied the water," and those against Initiative 65 are encouraging people to do research before they vote.

“I believe people simply ought to vote no because I don’t believe marijuana should be in our state constitution," said Taggart. "If people believe that it should, I encourage people to vote for 65-A.”

If approved, the medical marijuana program would be run by the Mississippi State Board of Health.

Copyright 2020 WLOX. All rights reserved.