From its conception, the Medical Cannabis bill offered by Senator Kevin Blackwell has had a rocky welcome in each chamber. It met its end in the Mississippi House on Wednesday without a vote.
UPDATE: After the House killed the bill, the Senate convened only to add the original language to HB 119, Harper Grace’s law. The bill passed by a three-fifths vote in the Senate before adjourning.
House Chairman of Ways and Means Trey Lamar brought the bill up to members on a major floor deadline day. Prior to that happening, the bill passed in committee after a strike-all amendment was added by Rep. Joel Bomgar, which inserted a majority of the Initiative 65 language into the bill.
When Lamar brought the bill up on the floor, he attempted to remove the strike all, but it died overwhelmingly by a voice vote. He then attempted to make an amendment, but before he could do so, Bomgar raised a point of order.
The bill was then set aside so that attorneys could address the point of order.
Rep. Bomgar’s point of order was eventually not well taken. But that wasn’t the end. Before the bill could move on Rep. Beckie Curry attempted to raise another point of order, which eventually led to Lamar’s next comments on the bill.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I told this body from the very beginning I’m ‘rocking this baby.’ We didn’t have this bill in the House, this is a Senate bill. I think at this point in time we have shown the Senate that we have made a good faith effort to address the issues in this bill they have sent us and it is my opinion, I’ve discussed this with the Speaker, that this is the end of the road,” said Lamar.
Lamar went on to say that he has observed that it is the will of the House not to move the matter forward. He then moved to lay the bill on the table.
Laying the bill on the table is a procedural move that puts the bill to the side, for now. The time appears up for SB 2765 as the deadline for it to pass is today at midnight. Because the bill has not been voted on and the House is adjourned until after the deadline, the bill is effectively dead.
After Rep. Lamar’s motion, you could hear clapping and cheering coming from members of the body being followed by a voice vote that solidified the decision.
Prior to today, the bill initially passed in its assigned Senate committee, with promises from Blackwell that the bill was not quite done and would be ironed out more in the process. By the time it made it to the Senate floor, the votes had not been secured which caused quite an eventful day on that deadline.
Several changes were made to the bill in the form of amendments. The bill would no longer compete with the Initiative 65 program, but instead it would only go into effect if the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled against Initiative 65. It also removed caps on dispensaries per county and reduced fees for operators.
The first vote on the Senate floor, after multiple recesses, failed by a vote of 30 to 21 since the bill requires a three-fifths vote in order to pass. It was then held on a motion to reconsider which allowed members to revive it just after midnight, a technical “next day” on the calendar to be considered.
The second time the bill came up, around 1:00 a.m. Thursday, February 12, the bill was passed by a Senate vote of 30 to 19.
Its rocky start in the Senate seemed to be a vibrant indicator that it would be difficult to make it all the way into law. That indicator proved to be true on Wednesday.
The impact the death of this bill will have on the Senate’s remaining calendar will only be seen as the day continues. The Senate had roughly 31 bills left on the general calendar when the medical marijuana bill died, with dozens of others held on a motion to reconsider. With this bill dying, more House bills could meet a similar fate depending on the political capital offered to pass them.