Locals petition to legalize medical marijuana

Published 12:06 am Sunday, January 18, 2015

Anthony Chasley, right, sighs a petition from Jeremy Houston, left, to legalize cannabis, or marijuana, for heath and industry purposes. (Devonte Demby / The Natchez Democrat)

Anthony Chasley, right, signs a petition from Jeremy Houston, left, to legalize cannabis, or marijuana, for health and industry purposes. (Devonte Demby / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — With a petition at hand, two Natchez residents are spearheading efforts to legalize marijuana in Mississippi.

Jeremy Houston and Rascathé James are seeking registered voters in surrounding areas —Adams, Jefferson, Wilkinson and Franklin counties — to sign a petition for initiative measure No. 48 to amend the Mississippi Constitution to legalize and decriminalize cannabis for medical purposes and industrial hemp, the common name for plants in the cannabis family.

“I think legalizing marijuana in Mississippi not only is a benefit for users, but it helps the economy of Mississippi,” Houston said.

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Initiative Measure No. 48 states cannabis related crimes would be punished in a manner similar to, or to a lesser degree, than alcohol related crimes. Cannabis sold for medical purposes and industrial hemp would be exempt from taxation and the Governor would be required to pardon people convicted of non-violent cannabis crimes against the state of Mississippi.

Cannabis sales would also be taxed 7 percent, generating more revenue for the city and state, Houston said.

Houston and James began collecting signatures in early January and must have 21,443 signatures within the Southwest Mississippi region, or Congressional District four.

A total number of 107,216 signatures are required from the state. However, cannabis supports only have until Dec. 29 to get the required signatures needed to qualify Initiative Measure No. 48 so that it can be voted on in 2017. If one district fails to collect the required 21,443 signatures, the entire initiate fails.

Houston and James said they are up for the challenge, pushing Natchez residents to get involved.

“Residents of Natchez and beyond must research and learn for themselves, James said. Cannabis is a part of the earth and the earth heals.”

When Houston and James approached Natchez resident Joseph Bruce, he was heading home. But after briefly talking with Houston, Bruce signed the petition without question.

“I would rather for it to be legal than illegal,” Bruce said. “I know (cannabis) is good for glaucoma and will be able to help people with other medical conditions.”

Natchez resident Anthony Chasley was washing cars on Franklin Street when he signed the petition to legalize cannabis.

“It will boost income because if it’s sold for medical reasons, it will be taxed by 7 percent,” Chasley said. “(The City of Natchez) can go out and build businesses and industries while boosting everyone’s morale at the same time.”

Houston and James said they are willing to work with more eager volunteers to get their 21,443 signatures.

For more information or to sign the petition, email Houston at jeremy.houston1134@gmail.com.