Mississippi patients hoping on a green light for the state’s medical marijuana program before year’s end are likely to be disappointed.
The situation to date:
In 2020, the state’s lawmakers put together a ballot initiative to legalise medical cannabis – and 69.2% of voters supported it in November last year. But Mississippi governor Tate Reeves wasn’t thrilled with the prospect and that meant trouble lay ahead.
In May this year, hopes for the program kicking off in 2021 were dashed by a Supreme Court decision ruled the ballot initiative invalid due to a technicality – and the state’s voters were overwhelmingly unhappy with the court’s decision. 70% wanted the legislature to pass the law with wording exactly matching the amendment approved by voters.
But it was back to the drawing board for lawmakers, who began to hammer out details for a re-jiggered program. That process has seen its fair share of drama, such as Mississippi State Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Andy Gipson digging his heels in regarding a proposal his department would be tasked with medical marijuana oversight.
That issue was expected to get sorted and Governor Tate Reeves to call a special session with view to the Legislature passing the measure this year. Things haven’t turned out that way. Governor Reeves wants stricter limits on the quantity of medical cannabis patients can buy and to limit the THC strength in products.
Some concessions have been made, but lawmakers are saying no to any limit under 4 ounces a month – previously it was 5 ounces.
While that is being duked out, patients in the state continue to suffer. It’s now expected Governor Reeves won’t call lawmakers back for a special session this year, and the bill won’t be considered in the Legislature until the regular session begins in January, 2022.
Early this month during a press conference, Governor Reeves said getting the state’s medical marijuana program “done right is more important than getting it done quick.”
While the general spirit of that sentiment is admirable, given initiative 65 was given the thumbs up by voters a year ago now, some may feel more focus on the latter is now called for.