/Lawmakers to send medical marijuana bill to governor

Lawmakers to send medical marijuana bill to governor

Negotiators made Tuesday a final adjustment to the location of marijuana-growing operations in order to please the lobbying state municipalities. Senator Kevin Blackwell (R-Southaven), author of Senate Bill 2095 the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act, stated that the Senate leadership had accepted changes made by the House to the bill last week. These included a reduction in the amount of marijuana patients can consume from 3.5 to 3 ounces per month. The House’s lead negotiator, Rep. Lee Yancey (R-Brandon), held a press conference Tuesday in order to announce the final agreement. Yancey stated that “this has been a long road.” “It looks like this bill will finally be able provide relief for chronically ill patients who are so severely in need of this alternative. I salute Senator Blackwell. He’s carried the bill most of it by himself.” READ MORE. Mississippi politicians tussle over medical marijuana. Mississippi has struggled for years to become one of the majority of states to legalize medical, if not recreational marijuana. Despite growing support from the citizens, legislative efforts in this conservative Bible Belt State have failed to succeed for years. Voters took the matter into their own hands and approved Initiative 65 in 2020. It created a medical marijuana program, and made it part of the state constitution. The Supreme Court ruled against the initiative on a technicality. This meant that voters couldn’t pass the initiative. Legislators worked all summer to draft a medical cannabis bill, promising to listen to the voters. Gov. Tate Reeves opposed Initiative 65 and vowed to also heed the voters’ will and call lawmakers into special sessions once they have reached an agreement. Reeves refused to call special session after they reached an agreement in September. Reeves said that the 4 ounces per month of marijuana patients could purchase was too much, even though it was less than the 5 ounces approved by Initiative 65. READ MORE: What regulation should Mississippi’s medical marijuana be? The Senate bill passed this month initially allowed patients to have 3.5 ounces per month. Reeves also requested concessions. The House amended the bill last Wednesday, lowering the amount by 3 ounces per month. Both chambers approved their versions by overwhelming votes. If it is veto-proof, both houses will be able to pass their respective versions. READ MORE: Senate passes Mississippi medical marijuana legislation. The original bill stated that marijuana grow operations would only be permitted in areas that are zoned for industrial and agricultural use. The House also added commercial zoning. Blackwell and Yancey stated that the Mississippi Municipal League opposed this amendment. On Tuesday, the bill was amended to state that commercial marijuana cultivation would only be permitted in approved areas. This measure allows local governments to decide not to have medical marijuana businesses within their communities or counties. However, voters can repeal this decision by a referendum. Reeves has not yet indicated whether he supports the changes. He could sign it into law, veto or allow it to become law without his signature if it is passed to him. This symbolic gesture governors sometimes make to show that they are not in favor of a measure, but won’t block it. On Tuesday, Ken Newburger (director of the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association) was one of many advocates at Capitol. According to Newburger, while the process was lengthy overall, lawmakers “moved at lightning speed” in this session in order to pass a measure. Newburger stated that he believes the governor will sign it. Newburger said that chronically ill patients want a better quality of life and an alternative to opioids. The new Mississippi industry will also create jobs. DeAundrea DeLaney, president of Mississippi’s Minorities for Medical Marijuana said that her group and other groups will soon start education and job fairs. Both Blackwell, Yancey and Yancey denied having had contact with the governor about the bill. Both said that the bill contains safeguards to make sure Mississippi’s program doesn’t become a recreational program or expand the black market. The Mississippi program proposes a list of chronic, specific medical conditions that a patient can use to be certified for marijuana. This program allows indoor cultivation only by licensed growers. It also creates a monitoring system for “seed to sell” products. Blackwell stated that he researched the experiences of other states with medical marijuana programs and created his bill to avoid any problems. Blackwell hosted hearings this summer that heard from representatives from Oklahoma, which has experienced problems and where a recreational medical marijuana program has been established. Blackwell stated that “We will never be Oklahoma 2.0.” “We have certain qualifying conditions, and you must have a good relationship with a doctor. You can get your laugh out there.