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News Fix: Mississippians Move to Put Medical Marijuana on the 2020 Ballot

News Fix: Mississippians Move to Put Medical Marijuana on the 2020 Ballot

Mississippi is slowly moving toward a less restrictive medical marijuana program… one petition at a time.

Mississippians for Compassionate Care (MCC) has put together a petition to get medical marijuana on the 2020 Mississippi ballot. The proposed initiative would allow patients with a debilitating medical condition to consult their doctor and obtain a recommendation for medical cannabis. The petition lists 22 qualifying conditions, including chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, epilepsy and cancer.

Mississippi currently allows patients with certain conditions to obtain CBD oil from a restricted number of suppliers. And the CBD oils must be tested by the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi – the only federally authorized cannabis manufacturer for research purposes in the country. (We’ve already written about how problematic its “research” is.) It’s a highly restrictive regime that denies medical marijuana to thousands who need it.

MCC says it has collected about two-thirds of the required 86,185 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. And it plans to continue gathering signatures until the September submission deadline.

This is a big deal. Mississippi is not known for being pro-cannabis. And it’s been a long fight to bring medical marijuana to the southern state. Ashley Durval first filed the MCC petition last summer. But she’s been fighting for the cause since 2013. She hopes medical marijuana can treat her young daughter’s Dravet syndrome, a genetic condition that comes with severe seizures.

In 2014, it seemed like her dream was coming true. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed Harper Grace’s law, named after Durval’s daughter, which was supposed to allow Harper and other children like her to receive cannabis oil treatment at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. But because the center is federally funded, treatments require federal approval. That approval hasn’t been granted. So Durval decided to take her case to the voters with a ballot initiative.

What the Fix finds particularly grating is that Bryant signed the law with Harper Grace in his lap – most assuredly a great photo-op. But the day after Durval filed the medical marijuana ballot initiative, he decried the effort in a Facebook post.

“I will be voting ‘no’ if this makes it on the ballot,” Bryant wrote. “With all the pharmaceutical advancements we have seen, it would seem strange to bring pot into the equation.”

You gotta love politicians.

We’ll keep an eye on this initiative. On to the News Fix…


The Postal Service releases a new hemp-mailing policy: The U.S. Postal Service recently unveiled a policy update on mailing hemp products (Marijuana Moment). Mailing hemp and hemp-based products (including hemp-based cannabidiol with THC levels not exceeding 0.3%) is legal only when…

  • The mailer complies with all applicable federal, state and local laws (such as the Agricultural Act of 2014 and the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018) pertaining to hemp production, processing, distribution and sales
  • The mailer retains records establishing compliance with such laws, including laboratory test results, licenses or compliance reports, for no less than two years after the date of mailing.

The policy is actually less restrictive than what some hemp industry advocates originally recommended.

Las Vegas OKs cannabis lounges, but Nevada legislature overrides it: Nevada is starring in another fun episode of “States Experiencing Internal Conflict Over Marijuana Laws.” After nearly two years of debate, the Las Vegas City Council approved the licensing of social-use cannabis venues in early May. But earlier this month, the Nevada Legislature adopted a bill that overrides the Las Vegas measure and delays the opening of any legal social cannabis venues until at least July 2021 (Leafly).

The bill calls for a new Cannabis Compliance Board to address unspecified “issues” that have come up due to “rushed” cannabis policies made under former Gov. Brian Sandoval, according to current Gov. Steve Sisolak’s office. Sisolak is set to sign the bill into law this week.

Illinois cancer patient receives four-year prison sentence for marijuana possession: Illinois just legalized recreational cannabis a few weeks ago. And it legalized medical marijuana back in 2013. But a stage 4 cancer patient named Thomas Franzen still has to serve out the remainder of a four-year prison sentence for marijuana possession (High Times).

Franzen pleaded guilty to possessing more than 5 kilograms of cannabis in the form of THC-infused chocolates. If he had taken his case to court and lost, he would be serving an even longer sentence.

“Franzen is expected to serve less than half of the sentence,” David Cambic, Franzen’s attorney, said. “We’d hoped to convince the prosecution to give him probation. The judge was cognizant of his health and wanted to give him some sort of break. But 40 pounds of cannabis is a lot.”


Amazon restaurant delivery service shuts down: It turns out that Amazon doesn’t win every time. It’s shutting down its restaurant delivery service in the U.S. after facing too much competition from rivals like Grubhub, DoorDash and Uber Eats. It’s too bad for Amazon, but a nice victory for startups (TechCrunch).

Former engineer tackles the vegan meat market: Former Boeing engineer Christie Lagally relaunched Rebellyous Foods (formerly Seattle Food Tech) this week to create tasty and cheap vegan cafeteria options (GeekWire). It’s targeting chicken-free nuggets, patties and strips. The startup has raised more than $2 million from Joe Montana’s Liquid 2 Ventures, Blue Horizon and Fifty Years, among others.

Rebellyous Foods is joining a flourishing meat alternatives market. Beyond Meat’s stock has soared more than 600% since its IPO to reach a valuation of $9.8 billion. And Impossible Foods just raised $300 million from private investors and landed a deal with Burger King.

Startups focus on bees: Bees are the latest buzz in the startup world. Several startups are offering pollination as a service, developing bioengineered bee food and even creating pollination brokerage networks (Crunchbase News). Many of these companies are aiming to help farmers improve their crop yields. Let’s hope they can help save the bees too!


Binance blocks U.S. customers from trading: Binance, the biggest crypto exchange in the world by volume, has updated its terms of service and is now excluding U.S. users (CoinDesk). Binance released its updated terms of service on Friday.

The exchange also said that effective September 12, 2019, “users who are not in accordance with Binance’s Terms of Use will continue to have access to their wallets and funds, but will no longer be able to trade or deposit on Binance.” The news comes less than a day after Binance announced it would be launching a U.S. division.

Watchtowers are coming to the Lightning Network: The Lightning Network is getting another layer of security with “watchtowers.” Watchtowers monitor user accounts to make sure bad actors aren’t trying to steal money or commit other fraudulent acts. The watchtowers will make Lightning Network users’ lives much easier by performing the constant monitoring they would otherwise have to do themselves (CoinDesk).

Facebook’s GlobalCoin gathers support: Facebook has signed more than a dozen backers for its GlobalCoin cryptocurrency, including Visa, Mastercard, Uber and PayPal. Each of the new backers will invest around $10 million in the project as part of a governing association for the coin (CoinDesk).

While we think GlobalCoin is unlikely to compete with bitcoin anytime soon, it’s worth noting the big names getting involved here. It’s a sign that people are growing more comfortable with crypto and that legacy companies are trying to control new technology before it disrupts their business models. With the Lightning Network ramping up its security, bitcoin’s fundamentals are only getting stronger. And with massive debt weighing down legacy companies and governments alike, crypto’s promise as a sound money alternative to the current system is as bright as ever.

Have a great weekend!

Allison Brickell

Assistant Managing Editor, Early Investing

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