Saturday, May 21, 2022

Will Medical Marijuana Affect Mississippi for Better or Worse?

Inside Slackers Supply, a smoke shop that may try to become a medical marijuana dispensary if Mississippi passes Initiative 65 on November 3. Photo by Amirah Lockhart.

Initiative 65, the medical marijuana bill, is on the ballot in Mississippi this November. The bill would establish a program allowing medical use of marijuana products by qualified persons with debilitating conditions.

In an Oct. 28 news conference, State Department of Health Officer Thomas Dobbs encouraged voters to read the amendment closely.

“This could be a transformative moment for our state,” Dobbs said. “I really think that if you look at it and look at what happened in other states, especially like Oklahoma and other places that have done things very similarly, to understand that we would be voting in the most liberal medical marijuana access in the country right now.”

Dobbs went on to say that the passage of this amendment could change the makeup of our state. One employee at the Oxford smoke shop Slackers Supply agrees. Kelsie Wright thinks that the initiative will benefit the state’s economy.

“You can see how it has affected other states that have already passed it in recreational or even medical for months or years now and how much it has boosted their economy. Mississippi’s economy is so low, and we tend to be the last in everything, and I really think that with COVID and how that’s impacted our economy, I really think that this would help us,” Wright said.

Dobbs’ has referenced Oklahoma more than once as an example of how medical marijuana can negatively affect a state; however, recent polls have shown that a majority of Oklahomans are still in favor of medical marijuana, a year and a half after legalization.

“A lot of people don’t really have all the facts and just associate [marijuana] with negative feelings,” Wright said.

Slackers is already considering applying to become a medical marijuana dispensary if the amendment is approved.

Dobbs has said he’s worried that there aren’t enough restrictions as the amendment is written now.

“How it’s designed to function is that a person gets a certification card to receive marijuana. It’s not a prescription, there’s not a dosage, there’s not a duration, there’s not a frequency. It’s basically a permission slip to purchase marijuana,” he said.

Mississippi would become the 34th state to legalize medicinal marijuana if the initiative passes on Nov. 3. Otherwise, supporters will have to wait until the next election cycle to propose new marijuana amendments.

Story contributed by journalism student Amirah Lockhart.