Mississippians for Compassionate Care, proponents of an initiative to legalize medical marijuana, reported submitting more than 214,000 signatures as of September 5, 2019; 105,686 of which have already been certified by county clerks. Once the clerks have certified the signatures, proponents must file the entire petition with the secretary of state for signature verification. 86,185 valid signatures are required to qualify for the November 2020 ballot. Moreover, signatures must be from voters distributed across the state’s congressional districts. If enough signatures are found valid, the initiative goes to the state legislature, which cannot prevent the measure from going onto the ballot but can put an alternative measure on the ballot along with the initiative.
The measure was filed by Ashley Durval, the mother of Harper Grace Durval. In 2014, the Mississippi Legislature passed Harper Grace’s Law, which removed marijuana extract oil (CBD oil) from Mississippi’s list of controlled substances and allowed its prescription for medicinal applications. Harper Grace Durval has Davet Syndrome, a type of epilepsy that causes seizures.
This measure would provide for a medical marijuana program in Mississippi under the direction of the Mississippi Department of Health. Individuals with a debilitating medical condition could seek a certification from a Mississippi-licensed physician to obtain medical marijuana.
The measure specifies that no qualified patient could possess more than 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana at one time and that no more than 2.5 ounces could be provided to a patient in a 14-day period. The weight limit would not include ingredients combined with medical marijuana to prepare edible products, topical products, ointments, oils, tinctures, or other products. Under the measure, no medical marijuana treatment center could be located within 500 feet of a school, church, or child-care establishment.
The measure defines debilitating medical condition as “cancer, epilepsy or other seizures, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cachexia, post-traumatic stress disorder, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, chronic or debilitating pain, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, glaucoma, agitation of dementias, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, sickle-cell anemia, autism with aggressive or self-injurious behaviors, pain refractory to appropriate opioid management, spinal cord disease or severe injury, intractable nausea, severe muscle spasticity, or another medical condition of the same kind or class to those herein enumerated and for which a physician believes the benefits of using medical marijuana would reasonably outweigh potential health risks.”
The last time Mississippi voters had a statewide measure on the ballot was in 2015, when they defeated both a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment and its alternative put on the ballot by the legislature.