Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Sid Salter: Med Marijuana Likely Fails in 2019 But Might Gain Legs in 2020

Almost 40 years of covering Mississippi government and politics suggests to me that an election year isn’t the best time to enact something as controversial as legalizing medical marijuana.

To be sure, medical marijuana is already legal in Mississippi in the narrowest of senses and has been since 2014. Legal, yes. Available? No. As I’ve noted before on this topic, conservative Republican Gov. Phil Bryant – a no-nonsense former deputy sheriff - signed Mississippi’s very narrow current medical marijuana bill into law in 2014 with help from some of the state’s most conservative lawmakers.

The namesake of the bill – Harper Grace’s Law - was Harper Grace Durval, a child enduring Dravet Syndrome, a rare and particularly difficult form of epilepsy. Harper Grace's Law was supposed to allow the Durval child and other children like her to obtain treatment with cannabis oil at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. But due to federal bureaucratic roadblocks at federally-funded UMMC beyond state control, not one child has received cannabis oil treatment under the 2014 law.

Past medical marijuana legalization efforts in Mississippi have had zero to do with legalizing recreational marijuana. Nine U.S. states and the District of Columbia – including Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington – have legalized the possession and recreational use of marijuana. Thirty-three states have legalized the use of medical marijuana – including Arkansas, Florida, and Louisiana – in variable amounts under variable conditions.

Other states, such as Alabama and Mississippi, have laws on the books permitting the use of medical marijuana for severe epileptic conditions, but the drug remains practically and legally unobtainable due to red tape, conflicting state and federal laws, and legal log-rolling from healthcare professionals and law enforcement agencies.

Election year or not, the majority of Mississippi voters are extremely unlikely entertain the notion of wide-open legalization of recreational marijuana. Remember, this is a state in which there are still a number of cities and counties that are “dry” on beer and light wine or on alcoholic beverages.

The Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus held hearings this week on Rep. Omeria Scott, D-Laurel’s Mississippi Medical Marijuana Act of 2019. That bill, I predict, is not destined to pass this year. It’s election year. Neither are other 2019 medical marijuana bills introduced this year likely to pass for the same reason.

But the ongoing more broad-cased referendum effort called Medical Marijuana 2020 in Mississippi has a fighting chance. The proposed referendum petitioners must collect at least 86,185 valid signatures by Sept. 6, 2019. This is a serious effort, well-focused and well-financed. The group proposes to “make medical marijuana available to Mississippians who have debilitating medical conditions.”

Who would qualify for medical marijuana under this proposed law? Those with “cancer, epilepsy and other seizures, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, HIV, AIDS, chronic pain, ALS, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, sickle-cell anemia, autism with aggressive or self-injurious behavior, spinal cord injuries, and similar diseases.”

Who would decide who can get medical marijuana? “Physicians will have the option to certify the use of medical marijuana as part of a treatment after examining the patient. With a licensed physician’s certification, a patient would obtain an identification card from the Mississippi Department of Health and medical marijuana from a regulated treatment center, which will be the only place medical marijuana would be available.”

Medical Marijuana 2020 doesn’t have a fighting chance next year because of old hippies – it has a chance because of grandparents and parents of children with epilepsy or autism, spouses of cancer patients, multiple sclerosis sufferers and those whose loved ones experience seizures.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at

Kingfish note: Ho-hum.


Anonymous said...

The 2020 ballot initiative will pass. I only wish it had passed under deputy Bryant

Anonymous said...

Medical grade weed is available in Mississippi. Smokeable, vape and wax.

Anonymous said...

Too bad the president didn't come out for legalization last night.Tater would write the bill himself.

Anonymous said...

Morgan and Morgan needs to get to work in Medical Marijuana in Mississippi. They need to do it for the people

Anonymous said...

As a conservative, I have changed my tune on legalization. I'm not a doper, have never smoked it (not even in college!!), and for years was opposed to legal cannabis. However, it seems that the legalization train is in full force and will eventually happen nationwide. I'd like to see Mississippi get on the forefront and legalize recreational marijuana.

I've always thought that medical marijuana was more about allowing dopers to legally get stoned than treating maladies. I mean, how many 24-year-olds have cataracts, but there are a ton of them in MM states with cards. And what other legitimate medication is (for many) administered by smoking, or can be grown in one's own garden? What happened to all those medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado after legalization?

I say legalize it and tax it and quit trying to stave off the inevitable.

Also, what are the agribusiness implications for legalized cannabis? I would think that an agricultural state like Mississippi could get ahead of the curve on farming a new cash crop.

Marcel Ledbetter said...

it is hilarious how other states have legalized its RECREATIONAL USE, whereas Mississippi is still years away from legalizing its medical use. To add insult to injury, Mississippi has the nation's largest federal research marijuana facility. So, they will take the grant money and all its associated benefits, but still remain on their high horse (no pun intended).

Anonymous said...

Medical Marijuana is a joke. Look around the country- this is nothing more than a pretense to full on recreational legalization.It was actually a brilliant move by the marijuana lobby to disassociate with cocaine in the 80s and shift to "medicine" in the 90s.

As a former pot head I can tell you that full on legalization would be a disaster for the country.

Read "Tell your children the truth about marijuana" by Alex Berenson.

The idea that marijuana is a magical plant with zero negative side effects is asinine and deceptive.

Anonymous said...

The Madison post office gets a lot of packages from Colorado and California I am surprised the PoPos hadn't figured it out.

Anonymous said...

I don't think something that will grow naturally without human intervention should be banned. I Mena I know wild Marijuana isn't the best thing in the world to smoke, but still. It's a WEED!

cholly said...

Be careful 9:23. Comments like yours will get you labeled as a Nazi, KKK, Bible-thumper, homophone or gasp...a Trumper!

Intelligent discourse is dead. Demonizing and name-calling rules the day.

Anonymous said...

Trump didn't come out for legalization of marijuana last night because he has already signaled support for several pieces of legislation in the works to decriminalize marijuana. Tate could write a bill today but he won't because he is defending Mississippi values from the "Hollywood Liberals" like Schumer, Pelosi, and Jim Hood.

Anonymous said...

Can't you see Phil Bryant going door to door after his term ends....wearing a Barney Fife costume and peaking in windows looking for dope? Remember when he blasted people looking for relief from cancer and Parkinson's and said we should put all of our trust in big Pharma?

I am glad a new day is around the corner in this state.

Anonymous said...

Legalize it on the federal level for recreational use! Let everyone in jail/prison for non violent marijuana law. Tax it! Take the resources saved and keep real drugs out of the country! It’s a damn plant!!! God put it here to use. Stop overruling God! It would stop coming from Mexico and allow us to focus on real drugs!

Anonymous said...

9:23, not really the best argument. If you, as a former self-proclaimed pot head didn't have your corpse stacked in the street like cord wood, then it isn't a 100% chance the use will destroy one, correct? In fact, given this dystopia you predict brought about by legal marijuana how many have died of overdoses of marijuana alone in states where it's legal? Keep sucking on your fountain Mountain Dew, pounding your fried food, crunching your Oxycontin with your cornflakes...let's make sure those dirty hippies don't smoke the devil's cabbage!

Read Vices Are Not Crimes: A Vindication of Moral Liberty by Lysander Spooner

No one said marijuana is a magical plant with no side effects. They may have said that there are some medicinal benefits (which should remove it from Schedule I). They may have said that all your best intentions to the contrary, you're not they're damned mother. They may have said that jamming kids up and

Anonymous said...

Legalize drugs and the crime rate goes down 90% nationally.

Anonymous said...

MISSISSIPPI will be the last state to legalize marijuana, you heard it here first because we like it that way. Being last meets all expectations, no effort required!

Anonymous said...

If legalized I promise immediately to get sick. I long for the cure.

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