Pubdate: Thu, 15 Jan 2015
Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Copyright: 2015 The Commercial Appeal
Author: Ron Maxey


Scotty Gray of Southaven thinks marijuana could help with his 
seizures more than the prescribed medication he's taking now.

Jim Ferguson of Nesbit thinks that even when used recreationally, 
marijuana is less of a threat to the public than what's already 
available legally. "I'd much rather come across somebody on the road 
high on pot than drunk."

It's hard to gauge how representative their views are of the larger 
population that will be needed to, first, get a proposal legalizing 
marijuana in Mississippi on the ballot and, second, get it approved 
by voters. There's no question, however, that Gray and Ferguson were 
representative of those who came to Hernando's Gale Center Saturday 
to hear organizer Kelly Jacobs of DeSoto County explain the process.

"It's encouraging that we already have more than 700 volunteers 
statewide," Jacobs told the crowd of about 50, referring t he number 
who have come forward to help gather the 107, 216 signatures needed 
to get the proposal on the November 2016 ballot.

The controversial topic of legalizing marijuana has gained traction 
across the nation, especially among younger voters. Twenty-three 
states and Washington now allow medical marijuana, and Colorado and 
Washington state also now allow recreational sales. No Mid-South 
states have legalized its use.

Despite the momentum, however, Jacobs cautioned that supporters face 
an uphill battle in gathering the needed signatures to put the matter 
to a vote in Mississippi. A minimum of 21,443 must come from each of 
the five congressional districts that existed in the state before 
redistricting reduced it four. Many people could be confused, Jacobs 
noted, listing themselves on petitions as members of their current 
congressional district instead of the old and resulting in the 
signature being rejected.

Throw in details such as the state requiring that petitions be on 
legal-size paper - and not the typical size of paper used in printers 
that many might use to print petition copies - and there are all 
sorts of pit falls that supporters must overcome as they try to 
collect the needed number of certified signatures by this October's deadline.

If they fall short, supporters could still try to reach the signature 
goal by December to get the measure on the 2017 ballot. But, Jacobs 
said during the combination question-and-answer session and training 
workshop, t he focus is on doing everything correctly to get it on 
the 2016 ballot.

"We could have legalized marijuana in Mississippi next year," she 
told the Hernando crowd.

Last Saturday's session will be followed by similar meetings later t 
his month in Horn Lake, Olive Branch and Southaven.

Organizers idhe first meeting, last Friday in Jackson, drew a crowd 
similar to Hernando.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom