South Dakota And Mississippi Voters Back Medical Marijuana

Medical cannabis - election 2020
Image: naeimasgary

Voters in the US states of South Dakota and Mississippi have approved ballot initiatives in their respective states legalizing medical cannabis.

First to South Dakota where voters approved Measure 26, which establishes a medical marijuana program for patients who have a debilitating medical condition as certified by a physician. As well as a state-regulated retail system for medical marijuana sales, patients will be able to home-cultivate cannabis for medical purposes.

The result was applauded by NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri.

“When operational, this program will provide lab-tested medical cannabis products to thousands of South Dakotans who can benefit from them,” he said. “These patients cannot wait, and voters were right to take action to make this access a reality.”

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Ballotpedia noted at the time of writing 69.2% had voted in favour of Measure 26 – but results still aren’t final or official.

Across to Mississippi now, where a ballot initiative there to legalise medical cannabis was also successful. But someone who won’t be particularly thrilled with the result is Mississippi’s governor, Tate Reeves.

“There are good folks on all sides of the medical marijuana debate. Most non-stoners say we should be careful & deliberate,” he tweeted on November 2. “Initiative 65 is the opposite.”

NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano welcomed the positive Mississippi result. Initiative 65 proposes to amend the state’s constitution to allow qualified patients with physician-certified debilitating medical conditions to use medical marijuana sourced from licensed treatment centres, i.e. dispensaries – the number of which would not be limited. The latter aspect is probably what triggered Governor Reeve to also comment there would be “pot shops everywhere – no local authority”. 

“Initiative 65 puts the needs and interests of patients first,” stated Mr. Armentano. “This was a grassroots effort to provide patients with access to a treatment option that patients already enjoy in 34 other states and in the District of Columbia.”

Mr. Armentano said it was a much more positive outcome than if Measure 65A had gotten over the line, which he says would have been far more restrictive and was an attempt to “misdirect” voters.

At the time of writing, Ballotpedia indicated 642,430 (74.04%) voted for Initiative 65 and 25.96% for 65A; again, results still not final.