Video: ‘Mississippi Alliance for Cannabis’ Holds Informational Meeting in Tupelo

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TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) — Like most states in the nation, possession of marijuana is a crime, punishable by fines, imprisonment, or both. But a grassroots group is trying to change that. The group is holding a series of informal meetings, gathering signatures for a ballot initiative that would legalize marijuana in Mississippi.

While the main dining room at Kermit’s Outlaw Kitchen was full for the lunch rush. Upstairs, members of The Mississippi Alliance for Cannabis were getting signatures on a petition that would let voters decide whether to legalize marijuana in the state.

“We’re hoping to legalize and decriminalize both industrial hemp and cannabis for adults 21 and over,” said Blair Baldwin.

Currently, only four states, Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon, have legalized both recreational and medicinal use of marijuana. If Ballot Initiative 48 goes to the voters, and passes, Mississippi would become the fifth state. Proponents say legalization and regulation of marijuana would mean more dollars for education.

“I have three daughters, they attend public school and I really want to see our children in Mississippi grow and have the opportunity to have the best education they can,” added Baldwin.

Tony LoCastro is a disabled veteran who served during the Gulf War era. He supports the legalization of marijuana for medical reasons.

LoCastro said, “A lot of times it’s hard for us disabled veterans to obtain proper pain medication for our illnesses through the VA, they refuse to give us medications that work half the time.”

Of course there are others who don’t favor the legalization of marijuana. Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson is close to the issue. He sees the effects of drug abuse everyday and says decriminalizing marijuana would cause more harm than good.

Lee Co. Sheriff, Jim Johnson says, “A lot of times marijuana is a starter drug where individuals start with that and then when that burns off they end up going to a much stronger drug, then getting addicted to something, then that’s where you begin to have the problems and it’s not anything I can see would benefit our community.”

Sheriff Johnson says alcohol and prescription drugs are legal, but cause untold suffering to families, individuals and society, and he believes legalizing marijuana would have the same impact.

Proponents must gather 113 thousand valid signatures by October to have the issue on the ballot in 2016. That comes to about 21, 200 signatures for each congressional district.

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