I want to share with you why I, as a Southern Baptist mother, support medical marijuana. My son, Austin, who is 24 years old lived a happy and healthy sixteen years of the first part of his life.
At age 17, his world and ours turned upside down when he began having focal seizures, severe joint pain, and chronic nausea and vomiting. He lost weight rapidly because almost everything he ate was expelled from his stomach. The seizures became frequent and the pain was severe. He saw 20 doctors and was prescribed 17 prescription medications to take daily over 18 months. He lost 40 pounds and was too weak to go to school.
Through prayer and careful consideration, God showed us a path to restoring Austin’s health through the use of medical marijuana by moving Austin to a state with a regulated medical marijuana program. For Austin, medical marijuana WORKED! He was able to stop taking all 17 prescriptions and to keep food down and receive nutrition that his body needed, which allowed his strength to return! His seizures and severe pain subsided. I remember thinking, “this seems like my vibrant happy son again.”
If Mississippians vote for Initiative 65, it would bring my son back home to me and his loved ones. Austin wants to become a resident of Mississippi again where he can live a happy, vibrant life.
80 percent of Mississippians support medical marijuana, and Initiative 65 is the only measure on the ballot that guarantees patients, like my son, the help they need right away. It establishes a regulated program for qualifying patients and has a specific list of 22 debilitating medical conditions, including epilepsy and seizures.
Initiative 65 was added to the November ballot with more than 228,000 petition signatures from Mississippians who are desperate for another option. Unfortunately, after Initiative 65 qualified, politicians in the Legislature placed Alternative 65A on the ballot, which offers no guarantees, no plan for accountability, no start date, and no list of qualifying medical conditions! 65A was designed by politicians to confuse the issue and keep medical marijuana in limbo for many more years to come.
As a mother of a child who suffers from debilitating medical conditions, I urge each of you to find compassion in your hearts to allow qualified patients to be able to use medical marijuana as an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs, which can have a plethora of side effects. Medical marijuana is helping patients in 34 other states. There’s no reason why patients here in Mississippi shouldn’t have that same option. It’s safe and effective, and no one has ever died from medical marijuana, but people die daily from opioids. Voters like you and me can help give our loved ones truly compassionate care through voting Initiative 65 into law. On November 3rd, I urge you to join the 228,000 Mississippians who worked to get this measure on the ballot and VOTE FOR Initiative 65, which will be at the end of your ballot.
Angie Calhoun is from Puckett, Mississippi.