EDITORIALS/Opt out of marijuana for now
Buried deep in Mississippi’s Medical Cannabis Act, if a city or county does not opt out within the first 90 days, — that would be May 3 — there will never be another opportunity to do so, so Madison County should opt out as well as Canton and evaluate options thoroughly.
Ridgeland, Gluckstadt, Flora, Brandon and Pass Christian are among cities opting out so far to evaluate and prepare.
Cities and counties can always opt in after officials have had time to enact local ordinances and regulations governing the time, place and manner of medical cannabis establishment operations and penalties for violating such ordinances or regulations.
Law enforcement will have to get prepared. There is a tremendous risk of crime surrounding businesses that cultivate, distribute or dispense medical cannabis.
What’s more, the black market production of counterfeit identification cards, the allowable weights that can be legally possessed, and the inability to distinguish between medical and non-medical cannabis found in a card carrier’s possession are all situations looming over law enforcement.
If an opt-out decision is made, a petition containing at least 20% or 1,500 signatures (whichever number is less) of qualified electors can trigger a special election to override the opt out.
The election must be held within 60 days from the date the petition is filed with the Secretary of State, but no sooner than 15 days from the publication date of the first of three required newspaper notices of the petition filing and upcoming special election.
Once an election is held, no matter the outcome, no subsequent election can occur sooner than two years from the date of the first election.
Opting out is not a local government’s only option to try to curtail medical cannabis establishment operations, but 90 days is a very short time to act on such an important matter.
The act allows municipalities and counties to:
• Pass specific zoning restrictions applicable to medical cannabis establishments;
• Require local registrations, permits, or licenses to operate a medical cannabis establishment;
• Enact local ordinances or regulations governing the time, place, and manner of medical cannabis establishment operations and penalties for violating such ordinances or regulations.
• No ordinance or regulation can prohibit dispensaries in a manner that makes their operation impracticable in that locale.
The Medical Cannabis Act in its entirety is hundreds of pages long and only allows counties and cities the 90 days from the effective date that began ticking Feb. 2.
Cities and counties can always choose to opt in at any point and that’s what local governments should consider following thorough study.
Initiative 65 the Supreme Court overturned was highly targeted to marijuana users on their devices by the big money influencers given the incredible power to target voters digitally.
Taking into account registered voters statewide, Initiative 65 passed by only about 40%, so the wide margin of victory being touted is deceptive, but who has ever known a drug addict to tell a little lie?
To be sure, there are individuals who will be significantly better off with access to medically prescribed doses of cannabis allowed under the new law, so all the more reason to get this right.
Madison County and Canton should opt out of medical marijuana for now and get it right.