JACKSON, Miss. (WMC) - Mississippi voters approved a ballot measure Tuesday night to legalize medical marijuana.
Mississippi becomes the 35th state to approve medical marijuana.
Two-thirds of Mississippi voters voted in favor of Initiative 65.
“We are just humbled and thankful and thrilled and excited,” said Jamie Grantham with Mississippians for Compassionate Care, which led the campaign for Initiative 65. “This is going to change so many families' lives, so many patients' lives across the state of Mississippi.”
Grantham said she was not surprised by the victory, since polling indicated the initiative would pass.
“Medical marijuana is not a political issue,” said Grantham. “This is a medical issue for families of loved ones and friends who are suffering. They know the differences. They’re aware of medical marijuana and how much it helps people.”
The initiative amends the Mississippi constitution to allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to patients who suffer from 22 debilitating illnesses like cancer, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis.
It puts the Mississippi State Department of Health in charge of running the program.
“I think the margin was surprising to a lot of folks,” said Ole Miss political science professor Dr. Conor Dowling.
Dowling says the margin of victory shows voters in conservative states like Mississippi aren’t afraid of what had been seen up until recently as a “progressive” cause.
“I think one thing we see is that perhaps when people are voting they’re able to parse out what this issue means to them as a voter as opposed to what they think about candidates in the parties when they’re voting in those races,” said Dowling.
The DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office strongly opposed Initiative 65, saying they were concerned about the potential for people to abuse the program.
WMC Action News 5 reached out to the sheriff’s office but they declined to provide a statement on Wednesday.