Mississippi holds hearings on medical marijuana initiatives


OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — People supporting and opposing two medical marijuana initiatives in Mississippi are getting the chance to speak at public hearings before the Nov. 3 election.

More than 100,000 registered voters petitioned to put Initiative 65 on the ballot. An alternative, Initiative 65A, was put there by legislators.

Sponsors of the original initiative say the alternative is intended to cause confusion and kill the original.

About two dozen people attended a public hearing Wednesday in Oxford, where supporters said marijuana is a low-risk, effective way to treat pain and opponents said it is an addictive substance that can lead to other problems, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported.

It was first of five public hearings about the two medical marijuana initiatives.

Saltillo resident Cody Weaver, a veteran and business owner, spoke in favor of Initiative 65. He said marijuana can treat post-traumatic stress disorder, which could help thousands of veterans. He described Initiative 65 as a “carefully written, clearly defined” plan to allow treatment of pain.

“We have an opportunity this November to offer a hand to some of these veterans,” Weaver said.

State Board of Health member Jim Perry spoke in opposition, saying the constitutional amendment proposed by Initiative 65 is too broad and could have dire consequences.

“I think many of the people for it are well intentioned,” Perry said. “Those people who signed those clipboards didn’t realize all the things that go along with this.”

Perry, who works in the financial industry, criticized how the amendment would distribute the revenue collected on the sale of marijuana. He said all the money would go back into the marijuana industry.

“They’re marketing to kids so they can get as many people hooked as possible so they can make as much money as possible,” Perry said.

Initiative 65 would allow patients to use medical marijuana to treat debilitating conditions, as certified by physicians.

Initiative 65A would allow patients with debilitating conditions to use medical marijuana. It says the state would create a program based on “sound medical principles.”

There’s a two-step process for voting on 65 and 65A. The ballot first instructs people to “Vote for approval of either, or against both.” It then says, “And for vote for one” — either 65 or 65A. Secretary of State Michael Watson said that even if people vote against both initiatives on the first part, they can still vote for one of the proposals on the second part.

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