Although lawmakers have tried to undermine medical cannabis legalization in the state, voters favor an activist-backed initiative.
Mississippi may be among the states to legalize medical cannabis this election, according to a recent poll. Though state lawmakers have attempted to undermine the measure, a strong contingency of bipartisan voters favor allowing medical marijuana in the state.
This summer, FM3 Research surveyed 600 probable Mississippi voters about the initiatives on the upcoming ballot. Four out of five voters supported “doctors being able to recommend marijuana to patients with medical conditions and serious illnesses.” This extended across political parties, with 76% of Republicans, 82% of Independents, and 89% of Democrats favoring the idea.
The data demonstrates that a diverse base supports the idea of medical cannabis in general. When it comes to voting on what’s actually on the ballot, things get complicated.
A proposal from the Mississippians for Compassionate Care qualified for the ballot in January, after the medical cannabis advocacy group submitted more than 214,000 signatures. The measure is called Initiative 65 and would allow patients to possess 2.5 oz. of cannabis per 14-day period.
Two months later, the Mississippi House of Representatives approved a new legalization proposal that will appear on the November ballots. It’s called Alternative 65A and provides few details about the eventual medical cannabis program. The potential bill would however ban smokable medical cannabis and require products be “suitable pharmaceutical quality,” a phrase that lawmakers didn’t explain.
Cannabis advocates said at the time that Alternative 65A was an attempt to kill medical cannabis in Mississippi. The FM3 poll shows otherwise. Three-quarters of voters say they’d vote yes on either measure, but strongly preferred the activist-backed Initiative 65.
“A majority (52%) support Initiative 65, while fewer than one-quarter (23%) say they prefer Alternative 65A,” FM3 Research wrote in a memo.
The Mississippi State Board of Health today passed a resolution opposing the upcoming ballot initiative to place the State Department of Health in charge of medical marijuana in the state. Full text of the resolution: https://t.co/AzUoOpBnnt
— MS Dept of Health (@msdh) January 8, 2020
The pollsters added that Initiative 65 remains durable despite major oppositional voices. This week, former Gov. Phil Bryant wrote an op-ed advising Mississippi vote “no” on the measure. The Mississippi State Board of Health additionally passed a resolution against Initiative 65 earlier this year.