One week ago, Mississippi announced that a question to legalize medical marijuana would be on the state’s November 2020 ballot. That same day, January 9, the Mississippi Board of Health issued a press release announcing its strong opposition to the medical cannabis initiative. Now, a group of seven Mississippi doctors are pushing back against the Board of Health’s anti-medical cannabis resolution. The letter, published Wednesday, voices strong support for Initiative 65 while blasting the Board’s arguments against a medical cannabis program.
Group of Mississippi Physicians Defy State Board of Health
Seven Mississippi physicians, representing a number of health fields from psychiatry to ophthalmology, are taking the state Board of Health to task over its opposition to Initiative 65, a ballot initiative to legalize medical cannabis in Mississippi.
Describing the health board’s arguments as “filled with misinformation and outdated arguments,” the letter goes on to say that the Board’s resolution against medical cannabis “offers no compelling reason” to prevent more than 5,700 Mississippi physicians from treating their patients with medical cannabis.
The Board of Health’s resolution against Initiative 65 inveighs against medical cannabis treatments, rehearsing debunked arguments that medical cannabis is recreational legalization in disguise, causes mental illness and addiction, increases workplace and traffic accidents, is not supported by medical science or evidence and will harm public health.
Rather than simply dismiss the Board’s arguments against legalizing medical cannabis, the letter responds to each concern in detail. In all, the physicians’ rebuttal to the state Health Board offers a comprehensive refutation of the Board’s stated opposition to the November ballot initiative in particular and medical cannabis in general.
“The Medical Marijuana 2020 website is full of information, research studies, and patient testimonials that support the need for this program,” the doctors’ letter concludes. “The experience of patients in 34 other states refute the allegations in the Board’s resolution.”
Doctors Say Mississippi Patients Deserve Better
Last September, the group Mississippians for Compassionate Care submitted 105,686 signatures to the office of the Secretary of State, nearly 20,000 more signatures than required by law for an initiative to qualify for the ballot. In fact, Mississippians for Compassionate Care collected roughly 214,000 signatures, but local clerks only certified 105,686 ahead of the deadline to submit the petition.
Furthermore, recent polling suggests the initiative has a strong chance at passing when voters weigh in this November. According to polls, popular support for a medical cannabis program in Mississippi hovers around 77 percent and cuts across every age group, political affiliation and religious belief.
Opposition to the initiative, however, remains steadfast. Mississippi’s Republican governor, Phil Bryant, has publicly stated his disapproval of the medical cannabis initiative.
The initiative, if approved by voters, would allow registered patients to possess up to 2.5 ounces of medical cannabis products for a range of severe medical conditions such as cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, Parkinson’s disease, HIV/AIDS, PTSD and more.
However, the state Board of Health’s opposition to medical cannabis has raised concerns among advocates and caregivers about how the Board would oversee the program, should voters approve it. The Board will have the authority, for example, to set rates on the retail sale of medical cannabis, implement a regulatory framework and operate other significant facets of the program.