Mississippi Governor continues stalling on medical cannabis access legislation

Mississippi+Governor+continues+stalling+on+medical+cannabis+access+legislation

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Lawmakers in Mississippi claim that GOP Governor Tate Reeves has been postponing a special legislative session with “unreasonable demands” on the boundaries of a measure to introduce a legal medical cannabis program. 

The debate regarding medical cannabis legalization in Mississippi has lingered since September 24. It was at this point that Republican lawmakers bit the bullet and told Reeves that they would be returning for a special session to enact legalization.

Discussions surrounding the topic of medical cannabis in Mississippi began heating up in May, when the State Supreme Court ruled that last year’s voter-approved legalization initiative was illegal due to a certain technicality. Because of this, a judge ruled, the Legislature would be obligated to approve a bill and launch a legal statewide industry.

Back in November 2020, 73% of Mississippians voted in favor of Initiative 65. The bill would have effectively formed a system of state-licensed cannabis dispensaries to kickstart retail sales. Transactions would have been limited to patients who had obtained a doctor’s authorization. 

Unfortunately, the state Supreme Court deemed the vote to be unconstitutional under a certain technicality – contradictory language contained in a state provision required Mississippi’s five congressional districts to provide an equal number of signatures, even though Mississippi has just four congressional districts.

Reeves has vowed to honor “the will of the voters”

In an attempt to satisfy the desires of pro-cannabis voters across the State of Mississippi, Reeves is pledging to sign a medical cannabis bill into law. During recent times, he informed Republican lawmakers of his vision to reduce a limit on medical cannabis flower dosage amounts. Specifically, he wanted to shrink the dosage from the existing proposal of 3.5 grams to 2.8 grams.

GOP lawmakers responded to his request by dismissing it. This is according to State Rep. Lee Yancey, who announced the response during an interview with reporters from Ridgeland-based Mississippi Today.

Reeves initiated a counterproposal for medical cannabis in Mississippi, asking that physicians be granted authority to approve 3.5-gram doses for medical cannabis patients.

However, the governor also requested that physician assistants, nurses and optometrists be restricted to providing patients with 2.8-gram doses, to which Yancy responded by saying that the plan would be difficult to execute.

Shortly after, amid a news conference that was held within the last few weeks, Reeves expressed that he wanted the bill to include lower THC caps for medical cannabis products. Many lawmakers were taken aback by his request, since the bill already imposes a 30 percent THC potency cap for smokable medical cannabis flower and 60 percent THC potency cap for concentrates.

Cannabis proponents urged to ask Governor Reeves to host a special session

It has already been weeks since the first request was made by lawmakers, but the Governor is continuously putting medical cannabis legislation on the backburner

Cannabis activists and in-need patients across the state are advised to send the governor a personalized message if they want him to call a special session.

Once an email has been sent to Gov. Reeves, it’s advisable to contact him via the phone at 601-359-3150 and further prompt him to launch a special session as soon as possible.

Featured below is a script that can be used to positively encourage the governor to push forward with access legislation in Mississippi:

Hi, my name is [YOUR NAME] and I am a constituent from [CITY]. I am calling to demand that the Governor arrange a special session instantly to implement medical cannabis legislation. Mississippi patients are deserving of this access, with over 70 percent of voters having mandated the legalization policy change at the ballot box. Thank you.