Mississippi became the latest state this week to add a medical marijuana question to its 2020 ballot.

Voters there will have the opportunity to decide on Ballot Initiative 65, which, if approved, will grant access to medical cannabis for patients suffering from various conditions like cancer and epilepsy. 

Mississippians for Compassionate Care, the group that spearheaded the ballot initiative, announced the news Wednesday on its Facebook page, saying that the Secretary of State in Mississippi certified the signatures submitted.

The group submitted 105,686 signatures to the secretary of state’s office in September—easily exceeding the minimum of 86,185 signatures required by Mississippi law for an initiative to qualify for the ballot. 

“We exceeded the requirement with overwhelming numbers in each of the districts totaling more than 105,000 certified signatures from Mississippi voters!” the group trumpeted in the Facebook post on Wednesday.

Should voters approve the initiative in November, Mississippi would join more than 30 other states that have already legalized medical marijuana. Voters in South Dakota will also have the opportunity to approve medical marijuana— as well as recreational pot —at the ballot this year.

Medical Marijuana in Mississippi

If Initiative 65 is approved by Mississippi voters, physicians in the state could start prescribing cannabis to patients suffering from a host of debilitating medical conditions: cancer, epilepsy and other seizure disorders, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, HIV/AIDS, chronic pain, ALS, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, sickle-cell anemia, autism with aggressive or self-injurious behavior, and spinal cord injuries among others. Those patients would then obtain an identification card from the Mississippi Department of Health.

Activists in Mississippi spearheaded the petition drive in the fall of 2018; by February of last year, they had more than 45,000 signatures.

Mississippians for Compassionate Care have expressed confidence about their chances throughout the process, citing encouraging poll numbers.

Jamie Grantham, a spokeswoman for the group, said last month 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.”

But the initiative will face some heavy opposition, including from the state’s Republican governor, Phil Bryant, who said as early as 2018 that he would be opposing the proposal.

“I will be voting “no” if this makes it on the ballot,” Bryant said in a Facebook post at the time. “With all the pharmaceutical advancements we have seen, it would seem strange to bring pot into the equation.”

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