The wait is over. After submitting well over the required number of voter signatures in September last year, Mississippians for Compassionate Care has received the good news that their initiative to legalize medical marijuana will appear on the November ballot!
Polling indicates that 77 percent of Mississippians support allowing medical marijuana. The state currently has a CBD program, but access is severely restricted.
Although a supermajority of residents are on the side of reform, some politicians, such as Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, are opposed. Those against the measure will likely do what prohibitionists often do: misinform and use fear tactics to dissuade voters.
If you live in the state, please get involved. You can support the campaign and learn more about Mississippians for Compassionate Care by visiting their website. Passage of a medical marijuana law in one of the most conservative states in the country would be a major victory for patients and families living there as well as for our movement.
Although medical marijuana is not yet available for Arkansas patients, patient ID cards went into effect on February 15, 2019. The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission began mailing out ID cards to qualifying patients, and over 7,000 patient ID cards have been approved.
Patients who have a qualifying medical condition and a physician's written certification can apply online.
Recently, the Medical Marijuana Commission awarded licenses to 32 retail medical marijuana dispensaries and five medical marijuana cultivators. Cultivators are expected to have product available for dispensaries by April. Hopefully, Arkansas patients will not have to wait much longer for relief approved by voters over two years ago.
Despite the progress achieved so far for patients, Arkansas still has some of harshest marijuana laws in the country. Possessing marijuana should not be punishable by jail time, and other states – including Mississippi, North Carolina, and Missouri – have decriminalized marijuana. Ask your legislators to impose a civil fine on marijuana possession. Together, we can bring marijuana policy reform to Arkansas.
Yesterday, Mississippians for Compassionate Care filed an initiative with the Secretary of State’s office that would make medical marijuana legal in Mississippi. The group is aiming to bring an amendment to the state constitution to voters in 2020. The first step to getting it on the ballot is to collect over 100,000 signatures from all over the state. You can read the proposed amendment here.
The signature collection is a huge undertaking and the campaign will need lots of volunteers to circulate petitions in their area. If you are a Mississippi resident who is willing to help collect signatures, please email the signature collection coordinator: JB Brown.
For more information on the campaign or to get involved, please go to www.medicalmarijuana2020.com. It’s time for patients suffering in Mississippi to have access to medical marijuana.
Recently, the government of Mississippi announced that MPP will not be able to raise any funds within the state, which could hamper efforts at reform there and throughout the South.
MPP's Executive Director Rob Kampia writes:
The Mississippi government is saying that MPP is prohibited from raising money in that state because I'm a convicted felon.
Worse yet, we're not even allowed to raise money in Mississippi to challenge the state’s stupid fundraising law.
This isn’t the first time MPP has been discriminated against.
For example, (1) MPP almost lost our employees' retirement plan until a member of Congress intervened, (2) the bank where we've been doing business for 20 years won't give us a line of credit because they don't like our "mission," (3) we had trouble opening a brokerage account, (4) we had trouble getting credit card processing for our five ballot initiative committees, (5) numerous landlords wouldn't lease office space to us or our campaigns, and (6) the IRS has audited us twice.
And now we can't raise any money in the entire state of Mississippi because of a marijuana conviction 26 years ago?
As marijuana policy reforms advance nationwide, Mississippi Sen. Deborah Dawkins has vowed to keep fighting for medical marijuana legislation. Last week, Sen. Dawkins introduced SB 2318, a bill that would allow seriously ill patients to possess and cultivate a limited amount of marijuana. Although SB 2318 would not allow for dispensaries to provide medical marijuana to patients, it would be an important step in ensuring that patients have safe and reliable access to the medicine they need.
Sen. Dawkins introduced a medical marijuana bill in the last session as well, and grassroots support for changing Mississippi marijuana laws continues to grow.
If you are a Mississippi resident, please ask your legislators your support for this important legislation.
A limited medical marijuana bill recently passed both the Tennessee House and Senate, and now awaits Governor Bill Haslam’s signature. SB 2531, sponsored by Sen. Todd Gardenhire, would approve a four-year study on the benefits of cannabidiol, often referred to as “CBD,” a non-psychoactive component of marijuana. Unfortunately, the many limitations placed on the bill by lawmakers mean it is unlikely to result in relief for seriously ill patients in the state.
The bill unrealistically depends on the Drug Enforcement Administration authorizing the cultivation of marijuana within Tennessee for study. The DEA has maintained a monopoly on the cultivation of marijuana for research in Mississippi, and has steadfastly refused to allow other producers in the past 50 years. Even if it weren’t for that problem, laws that limit patient access to CBD leave most seriously ill patients behind. For a more detailed look at the bill and its many limitations, click here.
Under the bill, Vanderbilt University would conduct the study and Tennessee Tech would theoretically grow marijuana. Both the House and Senate passed the bill by wide margins. According to news reports, Gov. Haslam is expected to sign the bill into law, and has 10 days from the date he received it to sign or veto the legislation.
As in Maryland, we hope Tennessee will move beyond its ineffective medical marijuana law and quickly pass a workable law that will help seriously ill patients in Tennessee.
Last week, the Mississippi General Assembly overwhelmingly passed HB 1231, which would legalize certain, very limited medical marijuana extracts for patients suffering from seizure disorders. While this bill is a strong endorsement of the medical benefits of marijuana by the Mississippi legislature, it is extremely limited and does not even create a realistic way for patients to obtain the extracts.
The bill, approved by the House 112-6 and the Senate 49-0, now heads to Gov. Phil Bryant, who is expected to sign it. If enacted, it would apply only to patients suffering from epileptic conditions, leaving the vast majority of patients behind. Furthermore, patients would only be able to use marijuana extracts that contain no more than 0.5% THC and more than 15% CBD.
The bill also only allows three specific medical research centers — the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi, the Department of Pharmacy Services at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station at Mississippi State University — to produce or possess the marijuana extracts for research. Given that federal law does not allow medical marijuana, it is extremely unlikely that universities will produce marijuana.
Gov. Martin O’Malley has stated repeatedly that he opposes decriminalizing marijuana, a sensible measure already adopted by 16 other states, including red states like Nebraska and Mississippi. Gov. O’Malley does not support measures being considered in the legislature that would remove criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana. One such bill passed the Senate in a bipartisan vote last year, but the House never took it up.
Gov. O’Malley needs to hear that caging people, entangling them in the justice system, and burdening them with criminal records for life, simply because of a few joints, is a waste of law enforcement resources. The ACLU of Maryland estimates that $106 million is wasted annually on enforcing marijuana possession laws. Criminalizing marijuana has destroyed lives, making it difficult for people to find a job or even get housing. These anti-marijuana laws also disproportionately target African Americans.
A national Rasmussen poll released today indicates that 47% of American adults answered "yes" to this question: "To help solve America’s fiscal problems, should the country legalize and tax marijuana?" Forty-two percent disagreed, and a whopping 10% were undecided.
Forty-seven percent is impressive, especially when one considers that this figure could grow to 57% if we're able to persuade the undecided folks to come to our side through positive news coverage, paid advertising, and person-to-person contact.
The 47% is a national figure, which means support for taxing marijuana is surely higher in states like Colorado and Washington, both of which will have marijuana-taxation initiatives on their ballots this November 6. (And, of course, support would necessarily be lower than 47% in states like Alabama and Mississippi.)
The same Rasmussen poll also indicates that only 42% of Americans "favor so-called 'sin taxes' on sodas and junk food."
In case you're thinking that the 47% figure is a decrease from previous polling ... it's not. The national Gallup poll, released in October, found that 50% of American adults "think the use of marijuana should be made legal."
So, these are two different marijuana questions. It makes sense that (slightly) more people are comfortable with the simple use of marijuana than the overall legalization and taxation of marijuana — which would involve retail establishments, large-scale grow operations, and maybe even advertising.
I'm very excited about the 47% figure, and I'm looking forward to working with our allies to pass the Colorado ballot initiative in just seven months.
You may know that the University of Mississippi has been growing marijuana for the federal government's little-known medical marijuana program, the Compassionate Investigational New Drug program, for decades. Each month, the federal authorities send four patients a tin canister filled with about 300 pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes. Unfortunately, Mississippi's seriously ill patients are not able to access medical marijuana even with a doctor’s recommendation, and they risk arrest and prosecution if they try.
Mississippians battling cancer, MS, and other serious conditions are fortunate to have a champion in State Senator Deborah Dawkins (D-Pass Christian). Sen. Dawkins has just introduced S.B. 2252, which would make it legal for qualifying patients to possess up to three mature plants, four immature plants, and up to 30 grams of usable marijuana for each plant.
It’s time Mississippi started making sure its own seriously ill patients have safe, legal access to medical marijuana — just like those four patients still benefiting from the federal government’s little-known program!
Please contact your legislator today, and urge him or her to support S.B. 2252.