Progress for Medical Marijuana in Mississippi
Progress for Medical Marijuana in Mississippi
There have been signs of progress on the issue of medical marijuana in Mississippi, and it seems the day when you’ll be able to get a Mississippi Marijuana Card may be rapidly approaching.
How Did We Get to This Point?
Most of you are probably well familiar with the convoluted story of Initiative 65—The ill-fated ballot issue that was approved by an overwhelming majority of Magnolia State voters in the November 2020 election, only to be scuttled by the State Supreme Court in May of this year. For those who aren’t, read on.
We already told you about some signs of life in the fight to bring medical marijuana to Mississippi after the Court overturned Initiative 65 on a technicality. In summary:
Mississippi Lawmakers Work to Keep Medical Marijuana Hopes Alive
On June 3, one day shy of three weeks after the Court’s ruling, the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee met to discuss steps the Legislature might take to address the will of the voters.
Five days later, Governor Tate Reeves told reporters, “I support the will of the voters. ... I think we will have a medical marijuana program in Mississippi." Not only that, but he added ““It is imperative that we get it done, and get it done quickly."
Working Toward a Solid Plan
Still, Reeves wanted the Legislature to make the first move. Because the legislative season ended in April, passing any new laws would require a special session, something that can only be called for by the governor. But Reeves expressed reluctance to call for such a session until he was confident that it would be productive and quick.
On June 15, Reeves told the Northeast Mississippi Journal that he wanted to have ongoing conversations with state legislators until a deal was more or less in place, and only then would he call for a special session.
He told the Journal, “I can call them into a special session, and for $30,000 a day, they can sit around and talk and negotiate and determine what a medical marijuana plan can look like, or I can not call them in yet, and for $0 a day, they can talk and negotiate and develop a plan.”
Latest Developments in Bringing Medical Marijuana to Mississippi
On June 28, the Senate Public Health Committee held a second hearing to discuss the details of Mississippi’s medical marijuana market. Lawmakers heard from doctors, medical marijuana advocates, and politicians from other states with medical marijuana markets.
Afterwards, State Senator Kevin Blackwell, of Southaven, said he believes a deal will be reached soon.
“I told the governor a couple of weeks ago we should have something by mid-July, an agreement between the House and Senate,” Blackwell said. “By August I believe we could have a special session.”
Some Mississippi Lawmakers Want a Slower Approach to Medical Marijuana Legislation
On the other hand, Blackwell, who has been leading the effort in the legislature to get a medical marijuana market created here, may be letting his support for the cause blind him to the political realities of the situation. Reeves is such a supporter of medical marijuana here that he introduced a medical marijuana bill during the 2021 legislative session, saying it would be a back-up in case the Supreme Court overturned Initiative 65.
That bill passed in the Senate but not the House, and perhaps that’s a reminder that, will of the voters aside, not everyone in Jackson supports medical marijuana.
Since Governor Reeves outlined his special session plan, not all state legislators have gotten onboard with his vision. State Representative Nick Bain, of Corinth, told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal that while he wasn’t opposed to a special session, he did think the best course of action was probably to wait until the next regular legislative session begins in January of 2022.
Waiting to Get Medical Marijuana “Right” in MS
State Senator Rita Potts Parks, of Corinth, agreed with Bain, telling the Journal that it was more important to get medical marijuana in Mississippi “right” than it was to get it quickly. While not in favor of a special session, Parks recognized the need for the legislature to address the issue. “A large percentage of people in the state voted for medical marijuana, “Parks said. “We do need to deal with this.”
State Representative Lester “Bubba” Carpenter, of Burnsville, said that despite the sense of enthusiasm and urgency amongst some legislators and the government, that he didn’t favor a special session. “We really need to study this thing,” Carpenter told the Journal. “We don’t need to invent the wheel. We need to tailor ours to our needs, and we need to get it right.”
A Special Session by Mid-July?
Despite opposition from some to his desire for a special session, Governor Reeves seemed optimistic about the prospect a mere two days after the Senate Public Health Committee’s June 28 hearing.
Reeves told reporters at a press conference, “I think we’ll have something that we can have serious discussions about, hopefully relatively soon.” Reeves said that Senator Blackwell had reiterated his estimated date of mid-July, telling Reeves that he expected to have a draft of the bill “within the next couple of weeks."
And the writing does indeed seem to be on the wall, even if the special session shouldn’t come to pass.
Polls have shown that a majority of Mississippi voters favor a medical marijuana program similar to Initiative 65, favor Reeves’ special session plan, and would be less likely to support candidates who opposed such a law. Furthermore, the same polls show that a plurality of voters support impeaching the Justices who voted to overturn the law.
Cannabis on Both Sides of the Aisle in Mississippi
And it’s not only the voters who seem to have come together on this. As usually happens when constituents make enough noise, politicians have also come together to find common ground.
House Speaker Philip Gunn, Secretary of State Michael Watson, Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann, and now Governor Reeves, all Republicans, support creating a medical marijuana market via the Legislature, joining Democrats like Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley and House Democratic Leader Robert Johnson.
With voters saying failure to support legalization would cost legislators their votes, a plurality of voters favoring impeaching prohibitionist Justices, and a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers and politicians supporting a medical marijuana bill, it seems like medical marijuana’s day is slowly but surely coming in Mississippi, even if it doesn’t arrive via a special session of the Legislature.
So What Do You Do in the Meantime?
No, medical marijuana isn’t here yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get ready for when it does.
Reserve your appointment with one of our highly trained, compassionate marijuana doctors today. We’ll schedule an evaluation for you just as soon as we’re cleared to start seeing patients. Not only that, but you’ll also save $25 off the cost of that appointment!
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!