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Group discusses economic, medical benefits of marijuana

NATCHEZ — Legalizing medical marijuana could hold an economic benefit for Adams County in addition to providing treatment for those suffering chronic pain, said representatives of a grassroots movement to legalize medical marijuana statewide.

“We don’t want Big Farming coming in and taking over, we want to give an opportunity for locals to establish business,” said Jonathan Brown, CEO of the grassroots campaign Medical Marijuana 2020. “Once we pass this there are going to be a lot of jobs in Mississippi because of this.”

Members of MM2020 are campaigning to amend state law to allow physicians in Mississippi to legally certify the use of medical marijuana for patients with debilitating medical conditions and for those patients to obtain medical marijuana from licensed facilities regulated by the Mississippi Department of Health.

Brown said the legalization of medical marijuana would come with the opportunity for establishment of a treatment center, which would be an independent dispensary licensed by the Department of Health.

Jamie Grantham, MM2020 communications director, said the jobs created would include laborers, security and production centers that put the marijuana extractions into different forms for ingestion. Grantham said their proposed plan does not limit how many licenses could be approved by the Department of Health.

However, Grantham said no guarantees exist that the opportunity would equate to locals being chosen for jobs because those big businesses already have experience working with legalized marijuana.

“We want Mississippians to have the same opportunity to be licensed by the Mississippi Department of Health for medical marijuana businesses,” Grantham said.

Friday morning at Natchez Coffee Company, the MM2020 representatives spoke to 40 or more people at the Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce’s weekly Friday Forum series.

MM2020 representatives are seeking to gather signatures from at least 86,185 state-registered voters, the amount required for the initiative to appear on the 2020 ballot.

Brown, who is a veteran, said he deals with post-traumatic stress disorder daily and has lost a lot of brothers-in-arms due to debilitating medical conditions.

“I lost a lot of friends and deal with PTSD every day and I know people who would be dead now if not for medical marijuana,” Brown said. “It’s a very important cause that’s close to me.”

Grantham said legalized medical marijuana would fill a gap in the treatments available for those who suffer from seizures, cancer, PTSD and other harsh conditions.

Sheri Brown of Natchez said that while working as a nurse in Seattle she saw many patients with chronic pain who benefited from the use of medical marijuana.

“People in chronic pain should have an option to alleviate it,” Sheri Brown said. “As a nurse I’ve seen many patients who were thrashing with pain and their only option otherwise is an opiate.”

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