Mississippi Lawmaker Says Medical Marijuana Will be First Legislation Passed in 2022
Who’d have guessed back in 2020, when 74% of Mississippi voters supported Initiative 65, a medical marijuana bill, that we’d be closing out 2021 still unable to get a Mississippi Marijuana Card?
And yet that’s where we are now. Six months ago, Governor Tate Reeves said that he wanted lawmakers from both chambers to work out a rough agreement on a medical marijuana bill, and that he would then call a special session of the state legislature to pass the bill into law.
Now, however, state lawmakers have done their part, but the governor refuses to do his, letting the clock run down on 2021 and kicking the can into 2022.
Fortunately, lawmakers are ready for him this time.
“75% of the people voted for it”: Lawmakers Say Medical Marijuana will Top the 2022 Agenda
At least some members of his own party are disappointed in Reeves’ handling of the medical marijuana issue, and have said that passage of the bill they’ve already written will top their 2022 legislative agenda.
The Sun Herald reported that a delegation of state lawmakers spoke to a meeting of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce on November 30, and told the audience that they plan to make the medical marijuana bill the first bill passed in the 2022 legislative session, which begins January 4.
Representative Henry Zuber III, a Republican who resides in Ocean Springs, told the Sun Herald that the House and Senate are both already in agreement on the bill, and that they had already conceded on most of the issues Governor Reeves wanted to see changed in the bill, but they drew the line at lowering the allowable THC level.
When it was pointed out that Governor Reeves could veto the bill, Senator Brice Wiggins, a Republican representing Pascagoula, told the Sun Herald, “I certainly hope he doesn’t, because 75% of the people voted for it, or a version of it.” To that, Senator Scott DeLano, a Republican representing Biloxi, said he thinks it’s very important that Mississippi voters be heard.
It’s unclear from the article if anyone pointed out to Senator DeLano that Governor Reeves said the same thing six months ago.
Experts, Voters Say Reeves is Wrong on Marijuana
Frustrations with Governor Reeves will no doubt be exacerbated by how wrongheaded he is on medical marijuana.
Senator Kevin Blackwell, a Republican from Southaven who has been one of the two lead negotiators on the medical marijuana bill Reeves now refuses to support, summarized the governor’s opposition to the proposed law in an ABC News story. Blackwell told ABC that legislators capitulated to all of Reeves’ demands, even agreeing to lower the monthly amount of marijuana that patients allowed to purchase from five ounces to four, but that the governor says four ounces a month is still too high.
Further, the governor wants to limit weekly purchases to an ounce, requiring patients to make more trips to the dispensary but, according to the governor’s thinking, limiting the potential for abuse by limiting the amount of medicine on hand.
Poor and Veterans are Likely to Suffer Most
According to ABC News, the governor believes that “to prevent abuse, people should be prescribed less marijuana.” However, experts aren’t so sure about the governor’s thinking.
Dr. Peter Grinspoon, who teaches medicine at Harvard and who is a member of the cannabis reform advocacy group Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, told ABC News that the governor’s understanding of marijuana abuse is flawed.
“Cannabis is not that addictive that you can't have a pile of cannabis lying around,” Grinspoon said. “People don't like to smoke it all up in the first couple of days. there's no evidence of that at all.”
By proposing that patients need to make weekly dispensary trips, Dr. Grinspoon says the governor won’t be deterring abuse, but instead will be inconveniencing patients.
“Health insurance doesn't pay for (medical marijuana), so if you do something like the governor is talking about doing it just means poor patients and our poor veterans have to go in every week or every two weeks and a lot of people do not have the money to do that or have the transportation, and that doesn't accomplish anything,” Grinspoon said.
Voters Also Say Reeves is Wrong on Marijuana
Although the governor said earlier this year that he was committed to supporting the will of the voters, it appears he is willing to make an exception if that will run counter to his. It isn’t just Mississippi legislators and Harvard doctors who think the governor’s proposal is unreasonable; the governor’s demands also fly in the face of what the voters said they wanted.
WAPT, Jackson’s ABC affiliate, points out that the 5 monthly ounces allowable in the proposed bill is also the monthly amount of medicine voters approved when they passed Initiative 65 back in November of 2020.
Part of the Uncertainty is that Reeves Refuses to Say What He Wants
One of the more frustrating aspects of the failed special session promise is that Reeves has been so coy about what he would and would not accept in a medical marijuana law.
As WAPT put it, “The governor is guarded about publicly discussing his final demands.” Biloxi’s ABC and CBS affiliate WLOX said that “Reeves wouldn’t say how much marijuana the bill should allow and that he would not debate the bill in the media.”
Reeves told WAPT that he wasn’t alone in his concerns, and that some of the Republicans who had been working on the legislation from the very start also expressed to him candidly that they too didn’t support the current bill that every on-record legislator has said they support.
“They... made those concerns very, very clear and very evident to myself and my team. And we shared many of those concerns,” Reeves told WLOX.
To WAPT, the governor expressed his concern that allowing the voters, politicians, and doctors to have their way on purchasing limits would mean (for some reason) that Mississippi would be legalizing recreational marijuana instead of medical.
"Because we don’t want a recreational marijuana program, I don’t believe the people of Mississippi want a recreational marijuana program, and I don’t want a recreational marijuana program in our state," Reeves told WAPT about his refusal to call the special session and support the legislation he had asked for.
Don’t Wait for Tate to Get His Story Straight; Get Started with Medical MJ Today
We may have to wait until 2022 for our governor to decide what medical marijuana legislation he will and will not allow, but you don’t have to wait a second longer to get ready for the inevitable arrival of medical marijuana in Mississippi.
Reserve a medical marijuana evaluation appointment online today with one of our caring, knowledgeable doctors, and we’ll book an appointment for you just as soon as Mississippi’s medical marijuana program is up and running.
You’ll meet with your new doctor virtually, using your smartphone or computer for a telemedicine appointment. You’ll discuss your condition and how medical marijuana might help you, all without leaving the comfort and safety of your home. You’ll even save $25 off the cost of the evaluation!
Doctors Who Care.
Relief You Can Trust.
Helping you find health and wellness through safe and convenient access to medical marijuana is our primary goal at Mississippi Marijuana Card. We’re working hard to educate advocates and cynics alike about the unique benefits medical cannabis can offer, building an accessible informational library of all things Mississippi and medical marijuana in the process.
If you have any questions, we’re ready to answer them. Call us at (833) 781-6635, or simply reserve a medical marijuana evaluation!