/House amends medical marijuana bill, sends it back to Senate

House amends medical marijuana bill, sends it back to Senate

Now, the Senate will review the amended bill. If the Senate rejects the House amendments to the bill, the bill will be sent back to the Senate. The bill will then move to conference committee where leaders from both houses will discuss the details of a final bill. On Wednesday, the House voted 104-14 for amended Senate Bill 2095. Lee Yancey, Chairman of House Drug Policy, stated that “this bill is about people who are suffering.” “That has been lost in this discussion… These debilitating circumstances, not something that you can fake and head to a doctor and get marijuana,” Lee Yancey, Chairman of House Drug Policy said. READ MORE: Senate votes expected on Thursday on the Mississippi medical marijuana bill. Let’s take a look at this bill. The House reduced the amount of “flower” that a patient could receive, from 3.5 ounces per month to 3 ounces per month. In its original draft, the Senate had previously reduced the amount to 3.5 ounces from 4 ounces. This is most likely a nod towards Gov. Tate Reeves had threatened to veto the bill and stated that it would allow patients too much marijuana and create a toehold for illegal recreational and black market use. READ MORE: Senate passes Mississippi medical marijuana. The House also exempts the Department of Agriculture (the Department of Agriculture) from oversight of the program. Andy Gipson, the State Agriculture Commissioner had previously publicly opposed his office’s participation in this program. The House also amended the Senate bill to allow growing operations to be established in areas that have local commercial zoning. They could only locate in areas that are industrial or agriculturally zoned. After voters passed Initiative 65 in 2020, lawmakers tried to reinstate a medical marijuana program. However, the state Supreme Court rejected it on technical grounds. The issue has been a problem for the conservative legislature for many years, despite the growing support from voters for legalizing medical marijuana. READ MORE: What regulation should Mississippi’s medical marijuana be? Several other amendments were attempted by House members to the Senate marijuana bill, both in committee and on the floor. They failed. These included measures to expedite the expungement or lowering of taxes on medical marijuana. Similar amendments were not offered by the Senate to the bill’s passage. The bill allows patients suffering from more than 20 chronic and debilitating conditions such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and spastic quadriplegia, to be certified to buy and use medical marijuana. Only the Department of Health can add conditions to this list. This allows doctors, nurse practitioners, physician’s aids, and optometrists, to give cannabis certifications to patients. The patient must have an in-person assessment and a “bona fide” relationship with the practitioner. A follow up assessment is required within six months. Minors can only be certified for use by doctors. Drafters stated that minors between the ages of 18 and 25 are most vulnerable to drug abuse. To be certified, a physician must sign off with another practitioner. The state sales tax, currently 7%, is applied to cannabis retail sales. The bill also includes a 5% cultivation excise and creates a tiered system for licenses and fees for processors and growers. The state general fund receives the money collected. For one year, the Senate bill prohibits lawmakers from voting on it or their spouses from having any interest in cannabis businesses. Rep. Dan Eubanks (R-Walls) tried unsuccessfully to make this prohibition permanent and stop lawmakers from “cashing-in” and provide “integrity, transparency,” but his amendment was defeated on a vote of 69 to 39. Rep. Omeria Scott (D-Laurel) unsuccessfully proposed an amendment to allow outdoor farming to make it easier for Mississippi farmers to join the program. It failed to pass, as did similar amendments in the Senate. The bill drafters claimed that indoor growing makes it easier to monitor and regulate the program and prevents organized crime and black market infiltration.