It is a rare event for any political figure to roll up his or her sleeves to move forward the issue of marijuana reform. Especially in the Southern part of the United States, where the attitude among a lot of the lawmakers is that marijuana is still a gateway to all bad things.
Meanwhile, there are others, like Ocean Springs, Mississippi Mayor Shea Dobson, who are more progressive on the cause, and are actually working with local cannabis advocates to legalize medical marijuana.
Mississippi is hoping to put the question of a comprehensive medical marijuana program on the ballot in 2020. But to do that more than 86,000 voters must come forward to sign a petition. Mayor Dobson, a Republican, hosted an event at the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center over the weekend in hopes of drumming up more support for the initiative. The goal is to give patients with debilitating conditions access to medical marijuana distributed by the Mississippi Department of Health.
Dobson, who wants to see legal marijuana replace opioids, calls it a “compassion issue,” one that is “about people being able to make the best decision for their lives as they see fit.”
The mayor has supported the issue of therapeutic use for some time. In 2017, he told reporters: “I think we should be reducing the government’s role in healthcare and allowing sick people, people with PTSD and cancer patients, the ability to have the medicine that they see as the best option.”
The medical marijuana measure Dobson is supporting was brought to the table by the Grassroots Community HQ. Many of the advocates working to pass this initiative are also patients.
“I’ve dealt with PTSD for years, and I’ve seen so many of my fellow brothers and sisters who have come back from war and had to deal with those same kind of issues,” Jonathan Brown of Grassroots Community HQ told WLOX.
“We know already that medical marijuana is a good treatment for those symptoms from nightmares to suicidality to pain and anxiety,” he added.
Some of the latest national polls show public support for medical marijuana is around 93 percent.
As it stands, 31 states have legalized marijuana for medicinal use, with several others potentially joining in following the November 2018 midterm election. Initiatives and “compromise” deals are expected to pass in Missouri and Utah. Meanwhile, Michigan voters will decide on an entirely legal adult-use market.
There is even speculation that federal marijuana reform could be on the horizon following the midterm election.
As long as Mississippi’s cannabis advocates can run a successful signature collecting campaign, medical marijuana is just a matter of time.