Mississippi Meanders Slowly Onwards

By Richard Farrell 05/21/2014

Strictly speaking, marijuana possession is not a criminal offence in The Magnolia State, although police and politicians still get a nervous twitch when the subject pops up. Weed users caught with less than 30g pay a fine of $100 to $250 when next in town, although if they happen to be in a motor vehicle this becomes a felony with ninety days in jail

There is no such thing as legal marijuana dispensaries though, for having more than 30g is a felony too. The only exception is the University of Mississippi, which has been growing medical marijuana for decades for the government under the Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program. This weird tale began on a day in 1976, when Robert Randall convinced the court that he deserved the weed because it helped him with his glaucoma.

The court instructed the US government to open a marijuana dispensary to supply him with the stuff. Down the years a few more individuals qualified, and in its heyday the program had thirty active recipients. In 1992 President George H W Bush arbitrarily closed access to the program, without conducting a weed review as would have been proper.

Although the number of participants has dwindled down to four, the Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program administered by the federal government continues supplying the survivors with first class weed strains. Every month, the University of Mississippi weed dispensary sends a tin canister with three hundred pre-rolled joints to each of them from cannabis it grew. At an average ten a day, this presumably keeps them happy.

In the wacky world of American administration gone rampant, this must be one of the craziest stories ever. Three hundred joints is way beyond the legal limit, yet a de-facto government agency is supplying this, and is by definition an accessory to a felony each time it does. However a sister agency aka the Federal Police will arrest a student on the campus who has a speck more than 30g.

The Mississippi legislature seems content with this disjointed reality. For five straight years, Senator Deborah Dawkins (D) has attempted to propose a medical marijuana bill without success. In 2013, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted out her draft without a hearing. Rumor has it they could be more concerned about their political privilege, than the human suffering in their state.

Their reticence to face up to change and admit the need for marijuana dispensaries is very much in character with a state that likes to think it is the golden buckle in the bible belt. It was the last state to repeal the federal prohibition law in 1966, despite the fact the citizens decided 3.2% beer was legit when the boys came home in 1945 and asked for it.

A new generation of soldiers is crying out for medical weed to ease their pain in Mississippi as I write. They include brave vets from Korea, Vietnam, other parts of South East Asia and more recently Iran, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan. Surely, they have their rights. Why can’t the government’s weed dispensary at the University of Mississippi help them too? Or are there two versions of America?


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