County residents voice support for medical cannabis at Board of Supervisors meeting

Published 9:51 am Tuesday, March 8, 2022

The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing on Monday night to discuss the possibility of opting out of the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act.

Several county residents voiced their support for legal cannabis in Lafayette County, arguing that the medical benefits of the drug far outweigh any potential risks.

“I know two [doctors] in this town who are very much in favor of medical marijuana for people in need,” said Martha Scott. “I just don’t see how a medical marijuana issue, if you’ve done your research and talked to enough doctors, I feel like you won’t have a problem voting in favor of this.”

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Mike Watkins, a disabled veteran, said using marijuana when he was stationed on the west coast helped him get past his addiction to painkillers and other more addictive substances.

“I was a drug addict for years after I got out of the military,” Watkins said. “I suffered from PTSD and the VA prescribed me over 400 pills a month, and over half of those were narcotics. When I entered the program in Portland, I went from 400 a month to zero over a six-month period.”

Others argued that opting out would be in direct opposition to the wishes of the people, who voted overwhelmingly to pass the far more liberal and open Initiative 65.

“We went through the initiative process, collecting signatures, we went through the voting process, the supreme court did what they did, we went through another legislative process then the governor finally decided to sign the bill, and here we are again trying to get someone else to vote in favor,” said Antonio Barragan, the founder and president of Hemp+Ville CBD. “I’m asking that you guys not opt out after so much work… let’s give the people what they want.”

Board president Mike Richards was quick to point out that he and his fellow supervisors had not decided one way or the other, and were simply gathering as much information as possible to make an educated decision.

“I think there’s a lot of misconceptions right now on where this board stands,” Richards said. “Statutorily we have to notify when we’re voting to opt-out or not… the public hearing is strictly because we do care. We do want to know and have the input from the public.”

The board did not set a date for any potential opt-out vote. The Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act allows municipalities to opt-out of the program within 90 days of its signing on Feb. 2.