President Donald Trump speaks from the Oval Office of the White House as he gives a prime-time address about border security Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2018, in Washington. (Carlos Barria/Pool Photo via AP)

President Trump’s re-election campaign has sent a cease-and-desist letter to a group pushing to legalize medical marijuana in Mississippi, saying its mailers falsely claim Trump supports a ballot initiative in the Magnolia State.

“The President’s campaign has learned that your organization, Mississippians for Compassionate Care, has been circulating misleading communications using the President’s name, image, or likeness in support of Mississippi Initiative Measure No. 65 and your group’s efforts to legalize medical marijuana in your state,” Trump campaign Director Michael J. Glassner wrote to Jamie Grantham, spokeswoman for Mississippians for Compassionate Care. “President Trump has never expressed support for Initiative 65, and his campaign demands that you immediately cease and desist all activities using the President’s name, image or likeness …”

One major issue being debated in Mississippi is putting medical marijuana in the state Constitution, and the wording of the initiative that would not allow the state Legislature to set regulations or tax its sale.

The campaign said it learned that mailers supporting the medical marijuana Initiative 65 had envelopes that “deceptively — and in bold, capital letters —urge voters to ‘JOIN PRESIDENT TRUMP’ in supporting legalization of medical marijuana in Mississippi …”

READ MORE: Mississippi medical marijuana rhetoric intensifies as November vote nears.

But Grantham responded, “President Trump has clearly stated on multiple occasions that he supports medical marijuana. That is all that we’ve shared — the truth.” She provided links to videos and reports of Trump stating he supports medical marijuana and letting states decide the issue.

“We’ve never said he supports Initiative 65 and that would be absurd to do so as I think he is pretty tied up with his own presidential election,” Grantham said.

The Trump campaign said using the president’s name is “unfair to Mississippi voters who may be led to vote Yes … on the false belief that President Trump supports the measure.”

“Therefore, let us be clear about this:” Glassner wrote, in bold. “President Trump has never stated his support for passage of Initiative 65 or the legalization of medical marijuana in Mississippi.”

In a press release sent out by Mississippi Horizon, a group that opposes Initiative 65, Jim Perry, a member of the State Health Board, which also opposes the initiative, claimed “there is a pattern of deceptive statements from the pro-65 campaign.” He claimed the Initiative 65 campaign is “taking the playbook from Big Tobacco.”

Grantham said: “Politicians and bureaucrats who are behind Mississippi Horizon are spreading propaganda every chance they get and they are against people in Mississippi having access to this plant that God made that is safe and effective at treating pain, nausea, tremors, seizures and other debilitating conditions.”

Mississippi voters on Nov. 3 will decide whether to change the state’s constitution to legalize medical marijuana. Voters will have three choices:

  • Approve Initiative 65, for which more than 228,000 Mississippians signed a petition, which opponents say is too permissive and written to help the marijuana industry, not patients.
  • Approve Initiative 65A, put forth by the Legislature, which would allow lawmakers to regulate a medical marijuana program, but which opponents say is a rope-a-dope by lawmakers to thwart medical marijuana usage and dilute the vote for Initiative 65.
  • Vote against both. But voters who do this can still vote for one of the two initiatives, should one pass.

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Geoff Pender serves as senior political reporter, working closely with Mississippi Today leadership on editorial strategy and investigations. Pender brings 30 years of political and government reporting experience to Mississippi Today. He was political and investigative editor at the Clarion Ledger, where he also penned a popular political column. He previously served as an investigative reporter and political editor at the Sun Herald, where he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team for Hurricane Katrina coverage. Originally from Florence, Mississippi, Pender is a journalism graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and has received numerous awards throughout his career for reporting, columns and freedom of information efforts.