By Geoff Pender
A new poll says a majority of Mississippi voters not only want the Legislature to create a medical marijuana program like the one the state Supreme Court nullified, but they favor allowing recreational use of pot.
Nathan Shrader, chair of government and politics and director of American studies at Millsaps, said the poll shows a vast divide between Mississippi voters and politicians on marijuana and other issues.
The latest State of the State survey by Millsaps College and pollster Chism Strategies reports that 63% of those polled want the Legislature to enact something “mirroring” Initiative 65 — a medical marijuana constitutional amendment that voters passed overwhelmingly last year but the state high court shot down. It reported that 52% of those polled support recreational marijuana legalization, with 37% opposed.
The poll reported that 20% said legalizing medical marijuana is the most important issue in how they’ll vote in the next statewide election.
The poll also reported that 52% of Mississippians support expanding Medicaid to cover roughly 200,000 working poor Mississippians. A move to put this before voters was also derailed by the recent Supreme Court ruling that declared the state’s ballot initiative process constitutionally flawed because of outdated signature gathering rules.
Despite years of debate and fizzled attempts, lawmakers have balked at allowing medical use of marijuana or at accepting federal dollars to expand Medicaid despite growing movements to do both. The divide has typically fallen along partisan lines, with the supermajority GOP leadership thwarting both efforts.