The governor of Mississippi on Wednesday signed a bill to legalize medical marijuana, making it the 37th state to enact a policy change in the country.
Legislature He agreed to the procedure last week By strong margins, reform was pushed forward more than one year after voters approved the legalization of medical cannabis on the ballot. That was the initiative Overturned by the State Supreme Court for procedural reasons, prompting lawmakers to take it up legislatively.
In a social media post, Governor Tate Reeves (right) said that “there is no doubt that there are individuals in our state who could do much better if they had access to prescription doses of cannabis.” However, he reiterated his concerns that “there are also those who really want a recreational marijuana program that could lead to more people smoking and working less, with all the societal and family ills that cause it.”
After the bill passed both houses and was amended, lawmakers convened a conference committee to deliver the final product to Reeves, who had previously expressed some concern about procurement limits included in the previous version of the measure—He even went so far as to threaten to use the veto.
While recent changes in legislation have reduced the amount of cannabis that cannabis patients can purchase, the governor has not gotten the specific minimum purchase policy he paid. But he signed the legislation in the end.
“I made it clear that the bill on my desk wasn’t what I was going to write,” he said on Wednesday. “But the fact is that the lawmakers who wrote the final version of the bill (draft 45 or 46) made major improvements to get us to meet the end goal.”
Reeves had five days after legislative action, excluding Sundays, to either sign it into law or return it with the objections. If he had not taken any action by the Wednesday deadline, the law would have become law without his signature.
“Because of these software improvements…SB2095 will become law,” the governor said. “I thank all lawmakers for their efforts in these improvements and all their hard work. I am so grateful to all of you: Mississippians who made your voice heard.”
My statement on the medical marijuana bill: pic.twitter.com/VTpXbfMv6C
– Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) February 2, 2022
“Now, we hope we can leave this issue behind and move on to the other urgent matters facing our state,” he said.
Under the new law, dispensaries will be set up in about six months, which means Mississippi’s medical cannabis program could be up and running, at least in a limited form, by the end of the year if all goes smoothly.
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Bill SB 2095, drawing in large part from provisions that lawmakers negotiated in the second half of last year, as legislative leaders prepared a bill for a special session expected last summer. The ruler never called. Supporters say the lengthy proposal represents a middle ground between the more lenient plan that voters approved and the narrower approach favored by Reeves and some lawmakers.
The measure will allow patients with about two dozen eligible medical conditions to purchase the equivalent of 3.5 grams of marijuana (or one gram of cannabis concentrate) per day, with a monthly maximum of three ounces.
Patients may qualify for medical cannabis if they have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, muscular dystrophy, glaucoma, spastic quadriplegia, HIV, AIDS, hepatitis, Alzheimer’s, sickle cell anemia, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, neuropathy, or other diseases. Spinal cord or severely injured conditions as well as chronic medical conditions or treatments that cause severe nausea, cachexia, wasting, seizures, severe or persistent muscle cramps, or chronic pain.
Regulators can add more terms later via the petition. State-issued patient registration cards will cost $25, although some people can qualify for a lower rate.
Patients or their caregivers will be prohibited from growing their own cannabis under the new law. Meanwhile, products from state-licensed companies will be limited to 30 percent THC for hemp flower and 60 percent for concentrates.
Medical marijuana will be taxed at a wholesale rate of five percent, and purchases will also be subject to state sales tax.
While marijuana and vaping are permitted for patients, both will be illegal in public places and in cars. Driving under the influence of drugs will still be a crime.
The legislation would task the Mississippi Department of Health with overseeing the new industry and create a nine-member advisory committee to make recommendations on issues such as patient access and industry safety.
Previous versions of the bill had assigned the state’s Committee on Agriculture and Commerce with regulatory duties, but the House of Representatives removed the agency through an amendment. Commissioner Andy Gibson, who had opposed the plan for months, thanked lawmakers for making the change.
Licensing for cannabis businesses other than dispensaries — including growers, processors, carriers, disposal entities, testing laboratories and research facilities — will begin within 120 days, with the first licenses issued about a month later. The dispensary licensing process will begin within 150 days, and the first licenses will come a month later.
In general, local governments cannot ban medical cannabis businesses entirely or “make their operation impractical,” as the bill states, but a separate provision allows local governments to opt out of the program entirely within 90 days of its enactment. In such cases, citizens can petition to put the question to a vote.
There will be no limit to the number of businesses licensed under the plan. Cannabis businesses may have to obtain local approval to operate, however, and municipalities can adopt zoning and land use restrictions.
The original Senate bill would have allowed farmers and processors to be located only in areas designated for agricultural or industrial use, and the House later added an amendment to allow those businesses to set up a commercial district as well, but the Mississippi Municipal Paid back on change. The two-chamber conference committee changed that by saying that businesses can only operate commercial districts if a local government grants them a variance.
Mississippi voters decisively agreed Extensive legalization initiative in November 2020, but the state Supreme Court overturned the measure on procedural reasons last May – at the same time dumping the entire state initiative process.
“Despite tremendous support, Mississippians have faced an uphill battle for their medical cannabis program,” Kevin Caldwell, the legislative director for the Southeast Marijuana Policy Project, said in a news release. With this new law, justice finally prevailed. Patients in Mississippi who are seriously ill will no longer face arrest and criminal penalties for using medicinal cannabis and instead will face sympathy.”
“We applaud the legislature for working to restore the will of voters in one of the most conservative states in the country, and we applaud the government, Reeves, for signing it into law,” he said.
For most of the past year, lawmakers appeared ready to pass a medical marijuana bill during a special legislative session, but the governor ultimately decided not to call a special session yet. Deadlock with lawmakers. Those who supported legalization at the time said the responsibility for the failure lay with Reeves.
Later that month, Reeves Shuffle of questions from patient advocates About why he failed to call the special session. Then in late December, he said on social media that he had “repeatedly told members of the legislature that I was willing to sign a bill really related to medical marijuana,” but stressed that there should be “reasonable restrictions.”
A poll published in June showed that a majority of Mississippi voters support legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use, with 63 percent saying they want the legislature to do so. Passing a bill that reverses the polling procedure overturned by the Supreme Court.