Mississippi lawmakers are trying to reach a consensus on a medical marijuana program after the state Supreme Court shot down one overwhelmingly passed by voters last year with ballot Initiative 65. The state Supreme Court ruled in May that the medical marijuana initiative and the entire ballot initiative process was invalid.
Gov. Tate Reeves has said he will exercise his authority to call lawmakers into a special session for a medical marijuana bill. His one condition is that the House and Senate have a general agreement on a proposal in order to avoid a long, drawn-out session.
Senators Kevin Blackwell, R-Southaven, and Lee Yancey, R-Brandon, are close to having a draft that could prompt the legislative session.
“I believe we have basically most of the major issues resolved,” said Sen. Blackwell, who’s been at the forefront of the Senate’s medical marijuana progress. “We’re very, very close.”
Rep. Lee Yancey said, “I would be surprised if there were not a special session soon … I think at some point soon we will be ready to say to the governor that we have something we can work with.”
The Director of the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association, Ken Newburger, believes lawmakers have taken input on several factors in the legalization process from MMJ patients, advocates, and business leaders, according to Mississippi Today. “I think that’s been the most refreshing and surprising part of this whole legislative process, has been the willingness of the legislators in both chambers to reach out to people who have been advocating it, and patients who have been advocating it for years,” Newburger said.
“We are cognizant of how important this is, that there are those out there who need this medication, and we are trying to put together a program we can be proud of — and know that we will have to tweak it year to year — but trying to get it as good as we can on the first push,” Yancey said.
Neither Blackwell nor Yancey would provide specifics of agreements they’ve reached on taxation, licensing, and other particulars of a program.