It’s been a big week for cannabis activists as legalization measures have qualified for the ballot in two states.
Mississippi’s Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann confirmed that enough signatures were collected by Mississippians for Compassionate Care for Initiative 65 to appear on the ballot in November. Overall, the group submitted approximately 214,000 signatures to the secretary’s office. Initiative 65 includes over 20 ailments that would qualify for medicinal cannabis use including epilepsy, cancer, chronic pain, and HIV. Patients would be permitted to access and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis flower.
Lawmakers now have up to four months to approve, reject, or modify Initiative 65. However, even if lawmakers move to reject the initiative it will still appear before voters in November. Should Initiative 65 be modified then both the submitted version and alternate version would go before voters. In the event both versions are approved, the version receiving more votes will be implemented.
The Mississippi State Board of Health has already signaled its opposition to Initiative 65.
“Mississippi’s voters will directly decide our state’s marijuana laws, via a proposed constitutional amendment that will be on the ballot in November 2020,” the board said in a release. “As members of the State Board of Health, we write to share our concerns about the potential harmful consequences to the people and health of our state if this amendment is approved and to urge a ‘no’ vote.”
Not only is the board skeptical of legalizing medicinal cannabis, but it seems to be claiming that organizers of Initiative 65 may have ulterior motives.
“Don’t be fooled, this proposal is not about medicine, and it’s not about parents with cancer or kids with epilepsy,” the board said.
Another cannabis legalization measure was also confirmed this week to qualify for the 2020 ballot. In November, South Dakota residents will have the opportunity to vote on Amendment A, a measure that would legalize recreational cannabis use. Under the amendment, adults 21 and over would be allowed to possess up to one ounce of cannabis flower and cultivate up to three plants.
Under Amendment A, all cannabis sales would be regulated by the South Dakota Department of Revenue. The department would oversee the licensing of retailers, laboratories, and producers. All sales would be taxed at 15 percent with the funds allocated toward regulating the program and public schools.
Activists were able to collect more than the 33,921 required signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.
“As outlined in South Dakota Codified Law § 2-1-16, our office conducted a random sample of the petition signatures and found 68.74 percent to be valid,” Secretary of State Steven Barnett said in a release.
Based on the audit, the secretary’s office concluded that 36,707 signatures were valid.
There could be a bit of confusion on election day as voters will see two different cannabis legalization measures on the ballot. Several weeks ago, it was announced Measure 26, an initiative that would legalize medicinal cannabis, would also appear on the South Dakota ballot in November.