OXFORD, Miss. (WMC) - This November, voters in Mississippi will decide whether to legalize medical marijuana or not.
Oxford and Lafayette County law enforcement officials say initiative 65 would create a “major impact on public safety” and urge residents to vote no.
On the November 3rd ballot, Mississippi residents will vote on Initiative 65, which allows medical marijuana as a treatment for more than 20 qualifying medical conditions like cancer or ALS.
Health and law enforcement officials are urging Lafayette County residents to vote no.
“There is no medical use for this substance and it is high risk for addiction,” Dr. Katherine Pannel, Psychiatrist said.
“Make no mistake Initiative 65 is not about compassionate care, it’s not about helping those with chronic illness, or pain, what it is about is addiction for profit,” Joey East, Lafayette County Sheriff, said.
Jaime Grantham with the Medical Marijuana 2020 Campaign, the group behind the initiative, says physicians were involved in crafting the initiative and curating the list of medical conditions.
“Initiative 65 was carefully written and thoroughly researched after looking at 34 other states' medical marijuana programs, you know Mississippi would be the 35th state to adopt medical marijuana so this is not new,” Grantham said.
Oxford’s police chief expressed concerns over the initiative proposing a free-market approach.
“Dispensaries, they can be located anywhere. Local governments, local county municipal governments cannot zone these businesses out” Jeff McCutchen, Oxford Police Chief, said.
Sheriff East asked residents to vote no on Initiative 65 and yes on 65A, which supports approving medical marijuana but restricts smoking marijuana to terminally ill patients and requires marijuana products and treatment oversight by licensed physicians.
Grantham says 65A creates confusion and would generate a monopoly.
“So 65A is written in such a way where there’s a limited license cap and what that means is, if you’ve only got 8 or 9 licenses in the whole state, all of a sudden those licenses become very valuable,” Grantham said.
If initiative 65 passes, Mississippi would be the second Mid-South state to legalize medical marijuana, back in 2016, Arkansas voters approved a medical marijuana program that is now operational.