EDITORIAL/True medical marijuana?
A strong medical marijuana bill is what many local and state leaders were demanding so we can only hope that’s what SB 2095 is now that it’s law.
The marijuana issue has consumed an enormous amount of bandwidth in large part due to recreational users and the big money pot lobby leading the charge.
To be sure, there are individuals in our state who will be significantly better off with access to medically prescribed doses of cannabis.
The pot lobby, however, was demanding a recreational marijuana card that would have led to more people smoking weed along with all of the societal ills casual use brings including being a gateway to heroin and other drugs that cause overdoses and even death.
Mitigating the chances for abuse is noble, but that is impossible and we shall see where this goes.
Approval of Initiative 65 drops to about 40% when taking into account the number of registered voters statewide. So, there never has been a mandate.
The get-out-to-vote marijuana campaign was highly targeted to users in a digital age and ought to be a general warning about the influence of big money in future initiatives because of the incredible power to target certain voters digitally on their devices.
Enshrining legalized marijuana in the state Constitution is not what most Mississippians thought they were voting for in November, but that’s what Initiative 65 would have done.
Again, there is a warning.
The bill the governor signed is not the one he or most of us would have written, but it’s where we are and it’s now the law.
Significant improvements in about the 50th draft were made giving more local control of growing and marijuana dispensaries, but will it be enough?
In signing the bill into law — and a law can be amended or changed unlike the constitutional amendment that would have enshrined pot as a right — Gov. Tate Reeves listed a small sampling of the improvements he and others fought to include in the final version of the bill. Those improvements included:
• Reduces the total amount that any one individual can receive to 3 oz. per month. This one change will reduce the total amount by 40% from the original version (I asked for 50%). Said differently, there will be hundreds of millions of fewer joints on the streets because of this improvement.
• The medical professional can only prescribe within the scope of his/her practice. And they have to have a relationship with the patient. And it requires an in-person visit by the patient to the medical professional.
• Only an MD or DO can prescribe for kids under 18 and only with the consent of a parent/legal guardian.
• An MD or DO must prescribe for young adults between the ages of 18-25.
• The MSDH will promulgate rules regarding packaging and advertising, and I have confidence they will do so in a way that limits the impact on our young people.
• Prohibits any incentives for the Industry from the Mississippi Development Authority.
• Protects our churches and schools from having a marijuana dispensary within fewer than 1,000 feet of their location.
Rep. Jill Ford, a Republican from Madison, had sponsored her own bill with a slower approach but it was never taken up in the House.
“My bill would have taken a slower approach than the Senate bill. It was a true medical marijuana program,” Ford said.
Sen. Jenifer Branning, a Republican from Philadelphia, has said her concern is one of public safety and health and she, like Ford in the House, did not vote for the bill.
A true medical marijuana law is where we want to be as a state and it’s good to know we still have elected officials who are supportive of the need but undestand the dangers and prefer a slower approach that addresses public safety and health.