"This is not a black or a white issue, this is a gray issue," said Senator Deborah Dawkins.
In this case, it's actually a green issue. Sen. Dawkins, a democrat from Pass Christian is pushing legislation that would legalize marijuana in Mississippi but only for medicinal purposes.
"I think most people want their doctors to help them make these decisions," said Dawkins.
The bill, now being hashed out in the senate, would allow marijuana use only for seriously or terminally ill patients under the supervision of a doctor. Dawkins says those type of patients are often left in pain which was just the case for her father who passed away from lung cancer. With medical studies showing therapeutic benefits of the plant such as pain relief and sleep aids, Dawkins says she's not just blowing smoke by submitting the bill.
This isn't the first time this piece of legislation has cropped up at the state capitol. Sen.Dawkins introduced this bill several times before. With each year, she says she gets more support and if support turns into passage, Mississippi won't have to look very far for it's own crop.
Currently the University of Mississippi legally grows marijuana for the federal government and has been for at least a decade. The drug is shipped to patients in other states where its use is legal.
"It's something that seems very unfair that we in Mississippi provide this medicine, that's what it is, it's medicine, for people in other states and not in our very own," said Dawkins.
Sixteen states as well as D.C. already allow the drug for medical use and more than a dozen other states, including Mississippi have pending legislation. Dawkins says she understands concerns from law enforcement about the drug falling into the wrong hands, but with safeguards in place, like permits, she fells those who need it, should have access.
"I don't want anybody to get sick and I don't want anybody to lose a family member or a friend but if and when that happens, the road runs out for all of us, I want people to be able to have options to leave this world in a better place," said Dawkins.
The bill is currently in a senate judiciary committee and although Dawkins knows it'll be tough to get passed, she says she'll keep trying.
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