Mississippi discriminates against MPP due to Rob Kampia’s decades-old marijuana convictions
Last update: March 2, 2016
MPP was surprised to learn in fall 2015 that the Mississippi Secretary of State is refusing to allow us to register as a non-profit in the state — despite having allowed us to register in previous years. The stated reason was Executive Director Rob Kampia’s marijuana-related convictions from more than two decades ago. As a result, we are banned from seeking donations from state residents. Sadly, this limits our ability to change marijuana laws in Mississippi, and we believe it seriously limits our First Amendment rights. MPP is now in the process of appealing this questionable decision by the state.
We hope the matter will be resolved soon, because Mississippi’s marijuana laws are in need of improvement. Recently, we have seen some reform efforts in the state legislature. In the 2016 session, State Rep. Joel Bomgar (R-Madison) filed HB 1360, a bill that would have established a pilot program allowing seriously ill patients suffering from certain specific conditions to use and safely access medical cannabis with a doctor’s recommendation. Unfortunately, this bill did not pass out of committee. Ask your lawmakers to give medical cannabis legislation serious consideration next year.
In 2014, along with a slew of other traditionally conservative states, Mississippi passed a law allowing for the limited use of certain types of medical marijuana. This law provides an affirmative defense to individuals suffering from debilitating seizure disorders for the use and possession of high-CBD, low-THC cannabis extracts. While this measure only protects a tiny number of the patients who could benefit from medical marijuana, it is a step in the right direction. For more information about this law, check out our summary here.
In addition, Ole Miss researchers still face the same slow, multi-year approval process that has prevented clinical cannabis trials from going forward for decades. Even those trials that manage to be approved tend to be small-scale and short-term. But now MPP can’t fundraise in Mississippi to change the state’s marijuana laws — or its fundraising law. MPP is being discriminated against in Mississippi, just as patients whose conditions can be treated with medical marijuana are.
Did you know Mississippi is a “decrim” state?
Mississippi is one of the 20 states that have decriminalized — or, in four cases, legalized — personal use marijuana possession. First offense possession of 30 grams (a little more than an ounce) is punishable by a $250 fine instead of jail time and a civil summons as opposed to arrest, as long as the offender provides proof of identity and a written promise to appear in court.
Unfortunately, new evidence suggests that Mississippi’s marijuana laws are not being evenly enforced. A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that although blacks and whites use marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in Mississippi are 3.9 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.
Please write your state legislators to ask them to end marijuana prohibition in the state and replace it with a taxed and regulated system, as Colorado, Washington state, Alaska, and Oregon have done.
To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Mississippi, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s free legislative alert service.