By Kelly Jacobs, Team Legalize
The Mississippi Secretary of State just approved ballot initiative #48 on 12/29/14 which gave Mississippians one year to collect approximately 110K signatures on our petitions from registered voters who want to vote to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol and pardon non-violent cannabis offenders.
The Mississippi Attorney General wrote this description for the ballot summary: Initiative Measure No. 48 would legalize the use, cultivation, sale of cannabis and industrial hemp. Cannabis related crimes would be punished in a manner similar to, or to a lesser degree, than alcohol related crimes. Cannabis sales would be taxed 7%. Cannabis sold for medical purposes and industrial hemp would be exempt from taxation. The Governor would be required to pardon persons convicted of non violent cannabis crimes against the State of Mississippi.
Volunteers for this unfunded, grass roots Initiative 48 named themselves Team Legalize and at the time of this article have more than 900 volunteers all over the state helping gather signatures for #bi48 plus thousands more who are helping on the “down low”. Some businesses are helping by offering some counter space for the petition and inviting the public to come and sign it when they are open for business. Celebrities are asked to help: please use your own dime to host a voter registration rally so that Team Legalize can also collect petition signatures!
If 110K certified signatures are turned in to the SOS by October 2, 2015, this initiative will be presented to the first meeting of the 2016 MS State Legislature which will have 3 options: #1 they can adopt it and make it law! #2 they can put it onto the Presidential 2016 ballot or #3 they can offer their own amendment to put onto the ballot along side #bi48.
Mississippians will have to hurry and sign the #bi48 petition to make this happen by 2016, but if there are not enough signatures for the Oct 2nd deadline they can fall back on the one year deadline, but then the initiative will be presented to Mississippi’s 2017 Legislature.
Currently, we estimate that Mississippi arrests more than 12,000+ people every year on marijuana charges, and spends $200 Million to adjudicate and jail people for a crime that has no victim. Our proposal would change the laws so that cannabis would be lawful for adults, and legislated just like liquor. Just like it is nobody’s business how much wine is in your wine cellar, cannabis would not be anyone’s business unless abused. Local Circuit Clerks would issue $1,000 permits to sell cannabis, and $25.00 permits to cannabis farmers who are defined as someone who has 10 – 500 marijuana plants and the CC’s keep that money. A Mississippian who grows one to nine cannabis plants for personal use does not pay any fee. Medicinal cannabis would be regulated by the MS Dept of Health and Industrial hemp would be regulated by the MS Dept of Agriculture. Mississippi Farmers would again be allowed to grow Industrial Hemp which is a type of cannabis plant with low THC and is ready for harvest in about 100 days. Industrial Hemp is already a lawful crop in neighboring Tennessee and requires less water and pesticides than cotton and has more buyers who want to purchase it for oil, fiber and food.
Another purpose of our initiative is to achieve social justice. If marijuana becomes legal, then our government made a mistake by making it illegal, and we must forgive our government. Our Government has lied and we must forgive them for ruining the lives of Mississippians. To do that, our initiative 48 requires that our Governor PARDON non-violent cannabis offenders, past and present. We want the jails emptied of non-violent cannabis offenders, families reunited and criminal records expunged so that Mississippians can work and support themselves and their families.
The Feds have said that marijuana has no medicinal value, while they have a patent and collect royalties! That’s right, our Federal Government has a patent on the medical derivatives of marijuana and a pharmaceutical company pays them royalties. 23 states have legalized medical marijuana, and the press reported that the VA has recommended that cannabis may be prescribed for our Veterans who need it.
There has been resistance from MS Mayors who refuse to allow (the not for profit group) Team Legalize use their facilities to host town hall meetings, newspapers that refuse to write about it and Circuit Clerks who refuse to accept petitions, but legalizing cannabis resonates with many Mississippians who want it legalized.
Team Legalize has a supportive FB page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/YesOnProposition48/ and if someone wants to volunteer, they are asked to email their name, county and phone number to Kellitaj@aol.com. A supportive group called The Mississippi Alliance For Cannabis shares a downloadable #bi48 petition, a MS voter registration form and posts upcoming #bi48 events on their website: www.yesonproposition48.org
Time is waiting for no-one. The question for young Mississippians is, will enough of you register to vote and sign ballot initiative petition #48 to get it on the ballot?