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Potential medical marijuana patients hopeful for future as legislature sends bill to Governor

Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 8:57 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi is a step closer to starting a medical marijuana program. The legislation has now cleared both the House and Senate.

But it’s not a done deal just yet.

It’s headed to the Governor where he could sign it into law, veto it or let it take effect without his signature. He said Wednesday that he expects to make a decision by early next week.

Senate Bill 2095 author Sen. Kevin Blackwell says the final version was the 47th version they had worked through in the last several months. The bill was sent to conference after the House made some changes last week.

Blackwell summed up the difference in what the Senate initially passed like this:

“The only changes were we reduced the overall amount from 3.5 to 3 ounces per month,” said Blackwell. “We completely removed the Department of Ag. and we added this provision for commercial zoning.”

The conference report added in the option for local governments to decide whether they’d allow facilities in commercial zone areas.

House negotiator Rep. Lee Yancey admits his views on medical cannabis have evolved while working on the bill. And ultimately...

“It feels tremendous to have accomplished this for those with debilitating conditions who are suffering so badly,” he said. “I’m just hoping and praying that this could be an alternative for relief for them from their suffering.”

So, we wanted to hear from those potential patients. Jeanne Tate has sickle-cell.

“Imagine yourself being in some type of medical or having some type of medical condition where you are constantly in pain, and something is hurting or bothering you everyday that you can’t seem to get any type of relief for,” described Tate who serves as board chair for the Mississippi Sickle Cell Foundation. “And no matter how many trips to the doctor you need to go to, no matter how many types of pills that you take, you see, and I give him everything. But with this, it seems that we have another way of finding a way to help with this pain, and to try to stop and alleviate some of the pain.”

Christine Loftin has been anxiously awaiting updates from the Capitol because of her teenage son who has a mitochondrial disease.

“Brian woke up last night, probably six or seven times having seizures,” Loftin described. “So, we are very eager to try to get something in place that is going to offer some relief to him, and to the countless other kids and adults in our state who have been waiting a really long time to get this medication that they need.”

Still, she makes this admission.

“Quite honestly, I won’t feel the relief till we have the card in hand,” noted Loftin. “And we actually get the medication.”

And Shane Polk is a combat veteran praying this could be an answered prayer.

“Not only does this affect the patients, it affects our families,” described Polk. “My kids want their dad back, my grandchildren want heir grandfather back. You know, and when you suffer from these disabilities that we have, and many other people have, you know, the treatments there. And that’s what I just asked my governor to realize, you know, we’re asking for medical treatment.”

Yancey says it would be at least the fall before dispensaries would have products available. That’s taking all the timelines built into the bill into consideration. So, even if the Governor signs it or let’s it take effect... it won’t happen overnight.

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