Mississippi is not a friendly place when it comes to marijuana policy. Get caught with even a little bit of marijuana for a second offense, and you could be looking at 3 years in prison and a hefty fine. Selling a small amount results in a similar penalty. Distributing or cultivating within 1500 feet of a school or church doubles the penalties. Penalties get even harsher as the amount of marijuana involved increases. It's because of those harsh penalties that marijuana legalization is so important in Mississippi.
Fortunately, there is an effort underway to legalize marijuana in Mississippi. Supporters are currently gathering signatures. Per Marijuana.Com:
The latest example of this activism can be seen in the deep south. Discontent with Mississippi's currently harsh and outdated cannabis laws, activists in the state have begun traversing the state to gather signatures and fight for legalization.
Over 800 volunteers in the state have dispersed to hopefully obtain the needed 107,000 signatures that would place a referendum to legalize marijuana on Mississippi's 2016 ballot. Titled Ballot Initiative 48, the initiative would legalize the "production, sale and use of recreational and medical marijuana and industrial hemp" much like Colorado has done.
Recreational cannabis would be taxed at a 7 percent rate and all proceeds would go to Mississippi's public school system. Moreover, marijuana use and possession would also become decriminalized, keeping the state's smokers out of prison and the state's cops from persecuting marijuana use.
It would be nice to see the volunteer effort gain enough traction to get the attention and backing of a national organization. 107,000 signatures won't be enough, as valid signature rates can vary greatly. Still, it's an effort very much pursuing, and I tip my hat to those fighting for reform in Mississippi. It will be an uphill battle no doubt, but it's a battle fought in the name of justice.