As a retired deputy sheriff and a father of a daughter with a serious medical condition, I believe qualified patients should be able to get relief from medical marijuana if recommended by their Mississippi physician. I know that Initiative 65 will create a safe medical marijuana program and having this option for Mississippi patients is the right thing to do. Initiative 65 is the only choice on the November 2020 general election ballot that will bring relief to Mississippi patients while also protecting the public, and I am asking for your support.

I feel so strongly about this because my daughter, Nikki, has had an ongoing battle with cancer since July 27, 2017. This long battle with Leukemia includes many days in the hospital, 2 stem cell transplants, more chemotherapy than you can imagine, and constant bone pain and nausea. This disease has severely impacted her ability to live a normal life despite having access to excellent medical care and prescription drugs. I know firsthand that traditional pharmaceutical drugs often don’t control patients’ pain or nausea and can cause unwanted side effects and even addiction. As a parent, I want my daughter to have any medicine available that will help her have a better quality of life.

Patients like Nikki in 34 other states, including Louisiana, Florida, and Arkansas are finding relief through medical marijuana. More than 3.5 million patients in these states have access to this medicine and Mississippians deserve this same opportunity. I want my daughter, and other Mississippians who are suffering, to have medical marijuana as a treatment option to help abate the symptoms of their conditions if their physician thinks it would be beneficial.

As a former law enforcement officer, I know the best way for Mississippians to benefit from medical marijuana is through a strictly enforced program. Initiative 65 provides compassionate care to patients who need it most while ensuring that the public is adequately protected.

Initiative 65 qualified for the ballot with the support of 228,000 Mississippians who signed petitions, but politicians put Alternative 65A on the ballot as a kill measure to defeat Initiative 65 and prevent a medical marijuana program from being created. 65A is nothing more than a shell offered by politicians to appear like they are interested in this issue.

I’m voting for Initiative 65 because it is the only option that specifically names 22 medical conditions, consistent with 34 other states, including cancer, epilepsy, and PTSD. 65A does not name any and leaves it to politicians to determine which conditions would qualify, which may be severely limited. Initiative 65 creates an actual medical marijuana program with strict regulatory oversite from the Mississippi Department of Health. 65A allows politicians to decide how and when a program will work, which may be never. Initiative 65 provides legal protection for patients, caregivers, and doctors, which isn’t provided by 65A. Initiative 65 requires all revenue generated by the program to only support the costs of the program, including regulatory enforcement, so it is self-funded. 65A would require tax dollars to operate.

I’ll be voting for Initiative 65 on the November 3rd general election ballot. I hope you will, too.

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Submitted by Ronnie Pollard. He is a former Lieutenant with the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department and is the President of Mid-South Security & Fire LLC. He is on the Steering Committee for Mississippians for Compassionate Care.