Mississippi Medical Marijuana Still Coming, But Governor Reeves Delays Special Session
For months, Governor Tate Reeves has been saying he’d call a special session so that the Mississippi Legislature could pass a medical marijuana law just as soon as Republicans and Democrats agreed on a bill.
But you’re just going to have to keep waiting for the day when you can get a Mississippi Marijuana Card, because now that Republicans and Democrats have agreed on a bill, Reeves says they have to keep working on it until they agree on a bill that he likes.
Reeves Once Cited the Need to Work Quickly, Now Says to Slow Down
Mississippi Today summarized Reeves’ thoughts on the new bill as “it is more important to get a bill to legalize marijuana done right than done quickly.”
That’s a slightly different tune than the Dixie the governor was whistling right after the state’s Supreme Court shot down the medical marijuana bill that Mississippi voters had overwhelmingly supported. At that time, Reeves said “It is imperative that we get it done, and get it done quickly.”
“I support the will of the voters,” Reeves said at the time about why it was important to swiftly establish Mississippi’s medical marijuana market. Now, however, legislators say the governor has changed his tune, and it’s his own will he’s worried about.
Reeves Lists His Objections to New Medical Marijuana Bill
According to Mississippi Today, the governor’s specific complaints about the bill involve three aspects of the proposed law: the permitted level of THC in medical marijuana products, the amount of marijuana patients could purchase, and the qualifying conditions that would allow a patient to get a Mississippi Marijuana Card.
Legislators Call Reeves’ Demands “Unreasonable”
Representative Lee Yancey, of Brandon, said that blame for the delay in establishing Mississippi’s medical marijuana market now lies squarely with Reeves.
Yancey told Mississippi Today that “We have brought forward a bill that many have said would be the best program in the country. We are ready to have a special session. We have the votes to pass this. An overwhelming number in the House and Senate are ready to pass this, and we have a majority of people in Mississippi who voted for us to pass this. If there is any further delay, that will be squarely on the shoulders of the governor, rather than the Legislature.”
Yancey told Mississippi Today that Reeves’ quibble about permissible THC levels allowed in medical marijuana products blindsided legislators. “He’s never said a word to us about THC levels,” Yancey said. “It was all about dosage.” Yancey and State Senator Kevin Blackwell had been leading the negotiations over the bill for their respective chambers, and had been in touch with Reeves during the entire process.
The Mississippi Legislature’s proposed medical marijuana bill defines a dose of marijuana as 3.5 grams, or about an eighth of an ounce, and would allow patients to purchase up to eight doses, or an ounce, of marijuana every week, or 4 ounces per month.
This monthly limit is already a step down from what voters supported, as Initiative 65, the medical marijuana law that voters overwhelmingly approved but that the Supreme Court overturned, would have allowed patients to purchase up to 5 ounces a month.
Reeves now wants the dosage set at 2.8 grams instead of an eighth of an ounce, but wants the amount of monthly doses patients can purchase to remain the same.
“An eighth of an ounce is an industry standard,” Yancey told Mississippi Today in response to Reeves’ demand. “Medical marijuana machines are calibrated on eighths of an ounce. [...] We have told the governor, no, we are not going to change, that we are going to do just like 37 other states and the District of Columbia, and use the industry standard and allow people with debilitating conditions the same relief as other states with medical marijuana […] We already would have one of the most conservative programs in the country. We told him no on that.”
Reeves Considering Changes to Scope of Special Session
Reeves is also now suggesting that he may expand the scope of the special session once (if) he calls it.
Reeves told Mississippi Today that he is considering asking the Legislature to take up the issue of distributing federal COVID relief funds during the special session. The thought of an expanded focus for the session has some medical marijuana advocates worried, because there already existed the chance of detrimental changes being made to the bill during the session.
“Even if an agreement between Reeves and legislative leaders is reached, that would not prevent it from being altered during a special session during the normal legislative process,” the news agency pointed out.
Some fear increased odds of such deviations occurring if lawmakers are asked to split their focus and given more to get done within the time of the special session.
Lawmakers Have Already Accepted Some of Reeves’ Demands
Yancey told Mississippi Today that lawmakers have already incorporated some changes that Reeves requested to the bill. In response to the governor’s feedback, the legislature has agreed to forbid marijuana businesses from getting state-funded business incentives, to conduct background checks on caregivers who dispense medical marijuana to patients, and to increase the time state agencies have to issue licenses and permits from 90 days to 120 days following the passage of the bill.
For now, Yancey implies that he and his colleagues are done compromising with Reeves.
“If he doesn’t want to call a special session for this, we will do it on the first week of January in regular session and he can deal with it after we pass it. The delay is not because of the Legislature. The delay is because the governor keeps coming to us with unreasonable demands,” Yancey told Mississippi Today.
Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hoseman echoed that sentiment in a statement to the press when he said “Chairman Kevin Blackwell worked with his colleagues in the House and Senate, citizens, state agencies, policy experts, and healthcare and industry professionals for months to develop the current medical cannabis legislation. Public hearings were also held. A draft of the legislation was sent to the governor and many of the recommendations received were incorporated into the bill. We are ready to consider this legislation in a special session.”
Reeves is Going to Make You Wait Longer, but Don’t Wait Longer Than You Have to
We may have to wait a while longer now for medical marijuana to come to Mississippi, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start getting ready for it right now.
Reserve an evaluation today with one of our doctors, and we’ll make an appointment for you just as soon as Mississippi’s medical marijuana market is up and running.
You’ll meet with your doctor virtually in a telemedicine appointment. Using your smartphone or computer, you’ll discuss your condition and how medical marijuana might help you, all without even leaving your home! You’ll even save $25 off the cost of your evaluation!
Doctors Who Care. Relief You Can Trust.
Helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
If you have any questions, call us at (833) 781-6635, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
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