Thirty-three states have medical marijuana programs. Since July 2018, a group has been campaigning to make Mississippi the 34th.
WJTV12’s Candace Coleman sat down with the mother and daugther who are the faces of the Mississippi Medical Marijuana 2020 ballot initiative.
Harper Grace had her very first seizure at 6 months old.
“We kept having more of them, and then we did a genetic panel. We found out she had the SCN1A genetic mutation,” her mom Ashley Durval explains.
Indoors, Harper Grace plays like an average 6-year-old. But because of her condition, her outdoor activity is limited. A 99 degree fever can trigger a seizure, or even be deadly.
“It’s a mutation with her sodium channels. So she can’t regulate body temperatures,” Durval says.
If Harper Grace’s name sounds familiar, it’s because Harper Grace’s Law is named after her. The law was signed by Governor Phil Bryant in 2014.
It allows for patients with debilitating epilepsy and related conditions to receive medical marijuana treatment, high in CBD and low in THC.
But they can only receive it from the University of Mississippi Medical Center. And though it’s named after her, Harper Grace can’t participant in the program.
“They have to be like the sickest of the sick, who have no other option. And we’re fortunate that Harper isn’t the sickest of the sick. But like I said, any type of seizure is bad. It doesn’t matter if it’s three minutes or three hours,” Durval said.
Right now she takes four medications, twice a day through a feeding tube. Durval just wants a more natural option for her daughter.
And the Medical Marijuana 2020 ballot initiative is how they plan to get it.
Jamie Grantham is the communications director for the campaign. “When I go around and speak to groups, or we’re out gathering signatures, it’s usually about 80 to 85 percent of people are willing to sign. They’re excited about it. And they understand that it’s medicine,” Grantham says.
They could need to collect 86,000 signatures to get medical marijuana placed on the 2020 general election ballot.
Filed in July 2018, it’s already gained over 20,000 signed supporters.
The proposal not only includes the development of medical marijuana treatment centers, but also the ability for patients to use the whole plant, not just CBD oil.
“Parkinson’s disease, HIV/AIDs, Huntington’s disease…Also we’ve included in our initiative people who are addicted to opioids. They would be able to have access to this in place of those opioids. Because states that have medical marijuana programs have actually seen a 25 percent decrease in opioid related overdoses and deaths,” Grantham says.
If the initiative makes it to the 2020 ballot and then passes, the proposal would give the Mississippi Department of Health until August 15, 2021 to get regulations in place in order to start issuing business licenses and medical marijuana ID cards.