JACKSON—Medical-marijuana advocates have hit the magic number required to get the issue on the Mississippi ballot in time for the 2020 elections. Jamie Grantham, communications director of Medical Marijuana 2020, discussed the campaign at Refill Cafe's Friday Forum in Jackson on Friday morning.
"This is a massive movement where people are finding relief," she said at the meeting.
Grantham explained that the effort is a ballot initiative, meaning that Mississippi voters, rather than the Mississippi Legislature, will decide. Next year, assuming the secretary of state is able to certify enough signatures, voters will decide whether or not to legalize marijuana and introduce a strictly regulated program in the state.
Over the past 12 months, she said, campaigners have gathered the 86,185 petition signatures from registered voters required to make the ballot. They are continuing to gather signatures, which will pad the effort in case the secretary of state's office rejects some, with an eye toward about 150,000 signatures by the September deadline 2019. So far, 33 states have legalized medical marijuana.
Grantham said the medical program will benefit patients with debilitating diseases, which include Parkinson's disease, sickle cell and seizures.
"These are conditions that affect people's quality of life on a daily basis, your ability to be able to live and function," she said at the forum.
She noted that patients will be able to take an in-person exam with a licensed physician, and if they qualify, their doctor will certify them to use medical marijuana. From there, they would give this certification to the Mississippi Department of Health, who would oversee the program, and receive a medical-marijuana ID card.
"The patient would be registered into a statewide database that is overseen by the Department of Health," she said. "That database is a real-time database where, when the patient goes to a marijuana treatment center and they