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‘Eleven joints a day...is not truly medical marijuana’: Reeves won’t sign bill until changes are made

Namely, the governor has an issue with the amount of marijuana that the law would allow residents to have.
Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 10:30 AM CST
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Those in support of medical marijuana in Mississippi most likely won’t see a special session called anytime soon to discuss Initiative 65, which was voted in by an overwhelming number of Mississippi voters last year.

Gov. Tate Reeves has previously said - and still maintains - that he will not sign the medical marijuana bill as it is currently written. While on the coast this week, the governor talked to WLOX about the bill and why he is opposed to it as it is currently written.

“We’re continuing to have conversations with legislative leadership and we’ve made it clear that we believe, in many areas, the bill that they have produced has some positives, but the amount of marijuana any one individual can get has got to be reduced before I would be willing to call a special session,” said the governor.

Despite calls from legislators, medical marijuana activists, and the general public to call a special session, the governor has not budged and says he does not intend to until a bill is delivered that he is comfortable with.

Namely, the governor has an issue with the amount of marijuana that the law would allow residents to have. Initiative 65 as originally written allowed patients to purchase up to five ounces of medical marijuana every month.

“Proponents of marijuana want to talk about things like ounces and flower and all these things that don’t make any sense to the average Mississippian or make any sense to me... but this is what I can understand: I believe that the plan as it currently is in the bill, would allow for any one individual in Mississippi to smoke 11 joints a day, every day for a year.”

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.

After months of negotiation, the House and Senate came to an agreement on a new bill that is more than 100 pages long. It was sent to the governor’s desk in early October. Reeves, however, refused to sign that bill, saying it was still out of his comfort zone.

“We’re encouraging our legislative leaders to recognize that 11 joints a day, every day for a year, is not truly medical marijuana. That’s recreational,” said Reeves. “And what the people in this state - and particularly the Republicans in this state - want is a true medical marijuana program that allows medical marijuana for those individuals who really need it and that’s the kind of program we should put in place.”

Earlier this month, Rep. Lee Yancey told WLBT that 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.”

The governor said he’s hopeful that legislators will revisit the bill to make the needed changes.

“I believe the people of Mississippi want a true medical marijuana program. We have an opportunity to provide that through legislation, and I’m hopeful that the legislative leaders will come together and bring me a bill that does exactly that whether it’s in a special session or in the early days of the regular session. It’s more important that we get this right than that we get it done quick.”

The state legislature is currently set to convene in Jackson in January.

Initiative 65 was passed with by an overwhelming 74% of Mississippi voters and was originally set to begin in August 2021. The Supreme Court stopped it in its tracks.

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.

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.

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