When it comes to legislation, and in ballot initiatives, “the devil is in the details.” We’ve heard much in recent months about the Medical Marijuana Initiative 65 and its legislative alternative, Initiative 65A. Many news articles have been written, many personal testimonials given about why many people want medical marijuana as an option, and many opposing viewpoints exist as well.
But how many people have actually read the six pages of proposed constitutional amendment known as Initiative 65? The other day I sat down and read it, word for word. It’s too bad the six-page change to our State Constitution won’t be printed on the ballot. If it were, I have no doubt it would not pass. And it won’t pass with my vote. Whether you are for or against the general concept of “medical marijuana,” I urge you to seriously consider what I am about to say and do not vote for this misguided Initiative 65.
The proposed Initiative 65 is being well funded by out-of-state interests and supported by some well-meaning Mississippians. But what you probably have not heard is, if enacted, this proposed amendment would give complete constitutional control over “medical marijuana” to an unelected, unaccountable Mississippi State Department of Health.
You heard me correctly. By voting for Initiative 65, you will be giving complete and total authority over marijuana in Mississippi to an unelected state agency that will then have the unquestioned power to issue rules with the force of law over the “tracking and labelling” of medical marijuana; qualifications for processing medical marijuana; medical marijuana identification cards; standards for testing facilities; use of marijuana in nursing homes; reciprocal agreements with other states; qualifications for caregivers and treatment centers; implementation and operation of a “statewide data base system” and penalties for violations.
The Mississippi State Department of Health already has a huge scope of authority in our lives as we are witnessing every day during the COVID-19 pandemic. Why in the name of anything decent would Mississippians vote to give complete and total control over medical marijuana to the Mississippi Department of Health? Why would we vote to give complete and total control over anything to ANY unelected state agency?
This Initiative 65 is the exact opposite of what it means to be conservative. If you vote in support of Initiative 65 you are voting to support a state-run and state-controlled marijuana industry. Can you imagine the level of corruption that would result from such an industry in our State?
Can you imagine marijuana dispensaries in every commercial location in Mississippi, offering marijuana for anyone walking in with some form of pain? I’ve seen examples in other states of marijuana dispensaries set up in old abandoned motels, complete with billboard advertisements, and we don’t need that in Mississippi. It’s wrong for our families.
Did you know this Constitutional amendment would require a statewide tracking database of users? Will the federal ATF be able to monitor it and revoke your freedom to buy a firearm, to hunt, or even revoke your concealed carry license because now you are violating federal laws against possession or use of marijuana?
Initiative 65 is wrong for so many reasons - I’ve outlined just a few. Initiative 65 is wrong for Mississippi. As a proven conservative in our State, I am urging you to not support Initiative 65. If you want to support the concept, vote against Initiative 65 and vote for the alternative 65A. At least with the alternative 65A you retain a voice through the legislative process and the ballot box. But whatever you do, don’t vote for Initiative 65. Don’t give the Mississippi Department of Health yet another stranglehold over your personal healthcare and freedom. We have enough of that already.
Andy Gipson-Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce