/Legislature sends medical marijuana bill to governor

Legislature sends medical marijuana bill to governor

Angie Calhoun (founder of the Mississippi Cannabis Patients Alliance) said, “I’m so excited about the patients of Mississippi.” She is also the mother of a son who suffered from seizures and other chronic conditions and once moved out of Mississippi to use medical marijuana. This has been a long overdue event for them and we can see relief in the near future. I am also thrilled for the voters of this State, to finally have its will enacted…. So many of our Legislature members did what they said they would, give the state an excellent medical marijuana program, and respect the will of voters.” READ MORE. Mississippi lawmakers tussle over medical marijuana Lt. Governor. Delbert Hosemann said that the measure was one of the most spelled out in Senate history, and that he was happy to see the matter settled for now. With a vote of 46-4, the Senate approved Senate Bill 2095 in its final form. It was passed by the House 103-13. Gov. Tate Reeves office didn’t respond to questions about whether he would sign it. Reeves threatened to veto an older version of the bill but the lawmakers stated that they had made many concessions for him. (See the details below) If they did not change, both chambers’ vote margins would be “vetoproof”, which means that they could override any governor’s veto. The final bill was modified Tuesday evening to give local governments greater zoning control over the areas where marijuana processing or growing is allowed. The Senate also accepted changes made by the House to the bill last Wednesday, including lowering the amount of pot a patient can consume from 3.5 to 3 ounces per month and eliminating the Department of Agriculture’s oversight and regulation of the program. Andy Gipson, Agriculture Commissioner, had opposed the involvement of his agency. Final version would see the Department of Health take over all licensing and oversight. Hosemann stated that it was disappointing that the Department of Health had to enter the agriculture industry when they are already so busy with other things. Mississippi’s attempt to legalize medical marijuana, if not recreational marijuana, has been long-running and contentious. Despite growing support from the citizens, legislative efforts in Mississippi’s 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. Reeves, who was against Initiative 65, promised to also heed the voters’ wishes and call lawmakers into special sessions once they had reached an agreement. Reeves rejected the September agreement and refused to call special session. 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. Last week, the House amended the bill to lower the amount to 3 ounces per month. As the House voted on Wednesday afternoon, several medical marijuana advocates sat in the gallery. Many parents held photos of their children who had died from drug poisoning or overdose on the other side. They were there to support House Bill 607 which was also passed by the House overwhelmingly following the medical marijuana bill. HB607 would establish a first-degree murder case for illegally selling controlled substances containing Fentanyl, a super-strong opioid that causes death. Although the bill did not initially mention Fentanyl in its title, it covered all controlled substances sold. It was modified during Wednesday’s lengthy floor debate. Nick Bain, Chairman of Judiciary B, stated that the bill was intended to crack down on drug dealers and would only apply to people who sell drugs and not those who use them. Bain stated that the bill’s purpose was to protect addicts. I want to climb the chain, get drug dealers, the bad actors… We have an epidemic amongst our ranks — heroin laced Fentanyl, pills laced fentanyl… These parents have suffered unimaginable losses. This must stop. Our children are being exploited. People are exploiting our addicts.” Here are some highlights from the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act, now before the governor.