Mississippi voters may see an initiative to legalize medical marijuana on the ballot in November 2020, pending a review of petition signatures that could qualify the measure for the general election. Recently, a group supporting the initiative constitutional amendment, Mississippians for Compassionate Care, delivered petitions with more than 105,000 signatures from voters to the office of the secretary of state. More than 86,000 signatures of registered voters will have to be certified for the initiative to appear on the ballot.

“The medical marijuana petition, No. 65, was filed yesterday,” a spokeswoman from the secretary of state’s office said in a statement in September. “At this time, we do not know whether the signature requirement has been fulfilled. We are in the process of reviewing and determining the number of signatures so as to file with the Legislature on the first day of the 2020 session in accordance with (state law).”

If the measure passes, doctors in Mississippi would be permitted to recommend medical marijuana for patients with one or more serious medical conditions including, including cancer, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, and others. The amendment would also task the Mississippi Department of Health with implementing rules to implement the measure and regulating the state’s new medical marijuana program.

If passed, the initiative would allow registered patients to possess up to 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana or cannabis-infused products, not including the weight of other ingredients. No more than 2.5 ounces of cannabis would be provided to a patient in a 14-day period.

Polls Show Measure Could Pass

Jamie Grantham, a spokeswoman for Mississippians for Compassionate Care, said that she believes the initiative will pass if it goes before the voters.

“The polling is extremely positive,” Grantham said. “It polls above 77 percent, with every age group, religious affiliation, political affiliation and other groups. Also, to that point, we saw the overwhelming support from the number of signatures we received.”

Joel Bomgar, a state representative and tech entrepreneur who spent $600,000 of his own money to fund the petition drive, said that bringing medical marijuana to Mississippi is a personal goal.

“I lost both of my parents to cancer at a young age, both after long battles with cancer and in spite of being on the very best chemotherapy available,” Bomgar said last week. “Even though they were both on the best opioid painkillers on the market, both of my parents died in extreme pain and constant nausea as the cancer cells took over and shut down their bodies from the inside. No one should have to watch someone they love pass away in that much pain and agony. This initiative would make a very real difference in so many people’s lives and also help curb the devastating opioid epidemic.”

The amendment to legalize medical marijuana is opposed by Gov. Phil Bryant, the Mississippi State Board of Health, and some law enforcement leaders.

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