Advocates file petition to legalize marijuana in Mississippi

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 30, 2014 10:46 PM

By David Minsky

(Reuters) - Marijuana advocates in Mississippi have filed a petition to put the legalization of recreational pot use on the politically conservative state's 2016 ballot, state officials said Tuesday.

The petition, filed Monday, comes amid a broader, nationwide push for marijuana legalization spurred by Washington state and Colorado voting to become the first U.S. states to allow recreational use of the drug in 2012.

Some 23 states and the District of Columbia permit medical marijuana use, though the drug remains illegal under federal law.

Recreational-use legalization initiatives are on the November ballot in Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia, with the Marijuana Policy Project, the nation's largest pot policy organization, planning to put similar measures before voters in 2016 in California, Arizona, Nevada and Massachusetts.

Unlike the Washington state and Colorado laws, the Mississippi initiative would allow adults to possess unlimited amounts of the drug. It would allow individuals to grow up to nine plants and to give excess pot away.

"This is about having an adult conversation that says 'there is nothing wrong with smoking marijuana," said Kelly Jacobs, a Democratic party activist who filed the petition.

The sale of commercially-grown, recreationally consumed marijuana would under the plan be taxed at a rate of 10 percent and would be regulated by the state.

The Marijuana Policy Project is not backing the Mississippi measure, said Mason Tvert, spokesman for the group, adding that statewide initiative campaigns require significant resources to stand a good chance of making the ballot.

In order to go before voters, the language of the measure must first be approved by the Mississippi Secretary of State and Attorney General, with advocates then tasked with gathering over 110,000 signatures, the Mississippi Secretary of State's office said.

Jacobs said she has not raised any money for the initiative campaign and has no plans to, but instead hopes to organize support and volunteers through social media.

(Editing by Jonathan Kaminsky)