Push for legalized marijuana in Mississippi has begun

If Mississippi for Cannabis can obtain 107,216 signatures by October, the legalization of marijuana would be placed on the 2016 ballot in Mississippi. The Mississippi for Cannabis registered the initiative with the Secretary of State as Initiative 48. If Initiative 48 reaches the ballot and is passed, it would amend the state constitution to regulate the drug like alcohol, the Governor would also be required to pardon all “persons convicted of nonviolent cannabis crimes,” and the first 3 years of tax revenues would be earmarked for education.

The following specific language would be added to the state constitution:

ARTICLE 15, SECTION 286: The people of Mississippi declare an end to the prohibition on cannabis, and fully legalize the use, taxation (if applicable), medical use, cultivation and sale of both industrial hemp, and cannabis (as defined by the Federal Government), only for adults who are 21 years or older. Cannabis farmers growing plants that exceed Federal Government THC levels for industrial hemp must secure their crops from unauthorized harvesting. Cannabis, with THC levels exceeding those of industrial hemp will be regulated like alcohol no later than 240 days from enactment. Regulations will require an annual Mississippi Cannabis Sales license issued by any Mississippi County Circuit Clerk for a fee of no more than $1000.00 to all adult residents who apply, and a $25.00 annual city or county governing locality fee to farm 10-500 plants. Locality fees for cannabis farms with more than 500 plants will not exceed $1000.00. A Mississippi sales tax of 7% will be collected upon every sale, except sales for cannabis sold for medicinal purposes and for industrial hemp which will be exempt from taxation. Sales License Fees and annual locality fees are to be retained by the locality. Owners of 9 or fewer cannabis plants are not considered farmers and are not required to pay a farming locality fee. The 7% cannabis sales tax, and the farming locality fees may be reviewed in 2025 and every 5 years thereafter. The cannabis sales tax can only be lowered; farming locality fees may be adjusted but only by 10%. All 7% sales taxes collected shall benefit Mississippi public schools until 2020 when the distribution of funds may be reviewed. Cannabis-related crimes may be punished in a manner similar to, or to a lesser degree, than alcohol-related crimes. The legislature shall add a process for expunging the criminal record of any person convicted on non-violent cannabis possession, sales and manufacture against the State of Mississippi. Industrial hemp shall be regulated by the Dept. of Agriculture. The Dept. of Health shall be responsible for a state-wide dispensary program and begin the issuing of identification for medicinal cannabis patients within 180 days from enactment. The Chancery Courts of this state shall have the power to enforce this section with injunctive relief.

ARTICLE FIVE, SECTION 124-A: The Governor shall pardon persons convicted of non-violent cannabis violations against the State of Mississippi, both prior and current, within 60 days of receipt of their written request, as long as they meet the qualifications. The Chancery Courts of this state shall have the power to enforce this section with injunctive relief. Amount and Source of Revenue Required to Implement Ballot Initiative: The estimated gross income from the 7% cannabis sales tax is $17 million dollars for the first 7 months of sales.

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