It’s a paradox that some of the same Mississippians who are afraid of COVID-19 vaccines are adamant about wanting to make marijuana legal for medical purposes.
That’s the conclusion you can draw from statistics unless you ascribe to the oft-used quote attributed to 19th Century British statesman Benjamin Disraeli who said “there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics.”
Nevertheless, it’s interesting to consider the percentage of Mississippi voters who approved of medical marijuana at the polls last year compared to the percentage of people in the state who have received one of the COVID-19 vaccines.
Proponents of medical marijuana, angry at the state Supreme Court ruling invalidating the initiative process that led to the vote, are peddling the idea that 74 percent approved the measure.
But as Mississippi Today’s Bobby Harrison writes, “the convoluted process enacted by legislators used to place an alternative to a citizen-sponsored initiative on the ballot makes it difficult to gauge the precise level of support for medical marijuana.”
Still, Harrison notes, the November vote shows “a strong majority" favored legalization.
Meanwhile, other statistics indicate that about 37 percent of Mississippians have received one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine and only 33 percent are fully vaccinated.
It is true, of course, that the vaccine statistics include the entire population instead of only those who voted in last November’s election.
So that further skews the statistical comparison between vaccines and marijuana.
But I’d wager that some of those adults who didn’t bother to vote might still be willing to consume marijuana for medicinal and/or recreational purposes.
I’m a bit ambivalent on the medical marijuana issue. I surely don’t object to sick people using it if it reduces their pain.
But use of marijuana has led to far more bad results than the relatively few reactions to COVID-19 shots. True, if a person is dying, and if marijuana will make it less painful, why not?
An argument can be made, though, that legalizing it for medical use is a slippery slope toward more consumption for any purpose.
I voted against the proposition last year because I opposed it going into the constitution, along with the details on control and taxation.
If it’s going to be legal, and I suspect it eventually will be, it would be better to address its control with statutory laws that can be more easily changed than a constitutional amendment when and if they need to be.
On the vaccine issue, it’s a shame more of us are not vaccinated.
And that brings up a couple more paradoxes.
Mississippi has long had one of the best records in the country in vaccinations against what were once often deadly childhood diseases.
Some folks now are opposed to any kind of vaccine for fears that are unfounded. That seems to be especially true of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Some of it is linked to politics and conspiracy theories, and the fear that anything that is promoted by the government must be bad.
Pundits speculate that Democrats, prodded by President Biden, are more likely to get the COVID-19 shots than Republicans. But in Mississippi a large number of Black people, who are not Republicans, are without the shots.
By the way, former President Trump, whose administration can be credited with fast-tracking development of the vaccines, got the shots himself, although many of his followers seem to be shunning it.
I agree with this editorial comment in Sunday’s Tupelo Daily Journal: “The push for vaccinations is not a socialist plot or communist takeover. The government is not trying to get your guns or your Bibles or implant you with microchips via vaccinations. COVID-19 doesn’t care if you are Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Independent, or voted for Trump or Biden or wrote in your mama’s name for president.”
Charlie Dunagin is editor and publisher emeritus of the McComb Enterprise-Journal. He lives in Oxford.