Up in smoke? Reeves won’t call special session until ‘additional adjustments’ made to medical marijuana legislation

Tate Reeves discusses a medical marijuana special session.
Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 5:45 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - In 2020, more than 74 percent of Mississippi voters approved Initiative 65, which allowed patients to purchase up to five ounces of medical marijuana every month.

Now, nearly a year after the measure was passed and more than five months after the state’s highest court overturned the initiative due to problems with the state’s ballot initiative process, medical marijuana is still not a reality and leaders are arguing over how much clinical cannabis they’re going to allow people to buy.

And despite calls from legislators, medical marijuana activists, and the general public to call a special session to pass the sought-after legislation, the governor has not budged and intimated at a press conference Monday that he’ll wait until the 2022 session if lawmakers don’t give him a bill that he is comfortable with.

“Really the one key piece left is with respect to how much marijuana can any one individual get at any one point in time and what is the THC content of that marijuana,” Reeves said. “And so that’s really the last piece that we’re working on.”

Reeves said there were some things in the original draft of the legislation which would prohibit the Mississippi Department of Public Safety from having any role in the medical marijuana industry. “Clearly, I wasn’t going to agree to that,” he said.

Reeves wouldn’t say how much marijuana the bill should allow and that he would not debate the bill in the media.

He said a “small cadre of individuals” worked on the initial bill and that there were Republicans in the House and the Senate that were uncomfortable with the proposal brought forward.

“They... made those concerns very, very clear and very evident to myself and my team. And we shared many of those concerns,” he said. “And, so again, it’s a process. We’re hopeful that we get this done sooner rather than later and as soon as we can get a final agreement, we’ll get it done.”

Under provisions of Initiative 65, patients would be able to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks, or enough to make more than 200 cigarette-sized joints, according to the Washington Post.

Lawmakers want to allow patients to purchase up to 3.5 grams, or an eighth of an ounce, while the governor supports limiting purchases to 2.8 ounces.

Rep. Lee Yancey said 3.5 grams “is an industry-standard, it’s an eighth of an ounce, that that’s the amount that states use all over the country.”

According to the National Council of State Legislators, 36 states have legalized medical marijuana programs, as has the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Clearly the levels that are in the current drafts of the bill that have been floating around, are higher than I am comfortable with,” he said. “And so we’re working to convince those in the legislature that if we’re going to have our true medical marijuana program, with strict rules in place, that ensures those individuals in Mississippians who need medical marijuana can get it, but also doesn’t err on the side of opening access to any and everybody in the state, which again, will be defined as a recreational program.”

“I can assure you we are having great... we are continuing to have conversations with individual members of the legislature,” he said. “We’re about 60 days from the legislature coming to town, and so I hope we’ll get it done before then.”

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