Advocates lead charge to legalize marijuana
Published 7:00 am Thursday, January 22, 2015
Across the Magnolia State, marijuana advocates are pushing for a state law to fully legalize and decriminalize marijuana.
Currently, the use, creation, sale and transportation of marijuana is illegal under federal law, but 23 states including the District of Columbia and Guam allow the use of medical marijuana, according to Whitehouse.gov.
Just last year, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill allowing the use of medical marijuana in Mississippi for the specific purpose of treating children who suffer from seizure disorders, as reported on WAPT News.
Marijuana advocate Kelly Jacobs is hoping to push complete statewide legalization of cannabis in Mississippi.
Jacobs wrote ballot initiative #48, which calls for the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana. She wrote the ballot with the help of her friend Susan Watkins. Jacobs believes it’s a person’s right to use marijuana.
“Young Mississippians want marijuana legalized, and the benefits of marijuana aren’t only medical, but it can also save the government big bucks when less people are in jail for non-violent marijuana possession,” Jacobs said.
The initiative was approved by the Mississippi Secretary of State on Dec. 29.
The ballot is a two-part bill. The first part of the bill calls for the legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana as well as industrial hemp. The second part of the bill calls for the forgiveness of non-violent marijuana convictions.
According to the ballot, marijuana sales would be taxed 7 percent, however medicinal marijuana and industrial hemp would be exempt from any tax. Jacobs said the bill also requires the governor to pardon those convicted of non-violent marijuana crimes.
“We want cannabis to be regulated like alcohol, where adults over 21 years of age could have access to it if they want,” Jacobs said.
According to the press release issued by the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, Mississippians have until Oct. 2 to sign the petition to put initiative #48 on the 2016 ballot.
To qualify initiative #48 as a constitutional amendment, 107,216 signatures from all five districts are needed. If the required number of signatures are not received by that date, the press release states signatures can still be turned in at the one-year mark on Dec. 29, but the amendment would be put up on the 2017 ballot instead.
A group in Mississippi called Team Legalize, made up of 850 volunteers, is holding events across the state to promote the ballot and attain the signatures necessary from Mississippians. Jacobs said she started Team Legalize on Facebook, and it has grown from there with the help of the Mississippi Alliance for Cannabis.
“I do speeches at the town hall meetings in order to get people to sign the petition and for them to see the reason behind why we want to do this,” Jacobs said.
So far, Jacobs said they already have thousands of signatures.
Pearl River County resident Jodi Allbritton is a volunteer for Team Legalize. Albritton was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2014, and said she would like to have the option to be treated with medical marijuana.
“I am passionate about it because I’m a multiple sclerosis patient, and I would love to have the option to choose medical cannabis instead of prescribed pain medication,” Allbriton said.
Currently, Mississippi is one of 18 states that has decriminalized marijuana, according to Whitehouse.gov.
Jacobs said the team will continue getting petitions signed until the October deadline.