Every educator knows that some students do better with visual aids. To better demonstrate to Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves what a reasonable amount of medical marijuana looks like, Senator Kevin Blackwell brought 3.5 grams of hemp to a meeting with the governor.
Mississippi’s House and Senate have been building a medical marijuana program for some time. The primary stumbling block has been Governor Reeve’s reluctance. The proposed legislation is currently at four ounces per month.
“I took samples to show him what an ounce actually looks like—what 3.5 grams actually looks like,” said Blackwell.
The senator felt the meeting was a success. He described it as amicable and said the governor was receptive but noncommittal.
“Hopefully, we moved the bar a little bit closer to an agreement,” Blackwell said. “… they’re going to think about what we said and get back with us.”
Reeves recently posted online that he would support a medical cannabis bill if it were “truly medical marijuana.” One of his objections was the amount a single patient can use per day. Reeves believes the 3.5 grams of cannabis per day allowed for people to garnish their glass pipes under the current bill is excessive.
“A simple google search shows that the average joint has 0.32 grams of marijuana. Therefore, anyone can get enough weed to smoke 11 joints a day. Every day,” Reeves wrote. The governor may not fully grasp the concept of “stocking up” and may likely buy minimal amounts of food each day instead of filling his refrigerator for the week.
He also believes it isn’t “medical” if there aren’t any doctors involved in the process. “There is no pharmacist involved and no doctor setting the amount. There is only what legislators call a ‘budtender’ serving you pot,” said Reeves
Reeves could veto the bill if possession limits aren’t modified but expressed his hopes that legislators will reduce the “tremendous” amount of cannabis that the current bill would allow so that he can sign the bill and “put this issue to rest.”
Through Initiative 65, Mississippi voters approved the medical cannabis program in 2020. But it was overturned by a Supreme Court decision in May 2021. State lawmakers then set out to draft their medical cannabis bill. Crafted jointly between House and Senate representatives, the draft proposal was initially 144 pages. After being sent to the governor for changes, it increased to a 277-page document.
Blackwell remains confident that the legislation is solid and presents a comprehensive patient program.
“It has been an eye-opening experience to go through a bill of this nature. I don’t know if any bill has been vetted like this…with the transparency that’s occurred,” Blackwell stated.
Currently, the bill is in the hands of Lt. Gov. Hosemann. He will send it to the Public Health Committee. Senator Hob Bryan has confirmed his support and that he will move it to the Senate floor for consideration “as soon as is reasonably practical.”