The main sticking point as of late has been the amount of product allowed to patients at any one time, something lawmakers don’t expect to change despite Governor Reeves’ urging.
When the 2022 legislative session gaveled in on Tuesday, lawmakers were met with a plethora of important issues to discuss before they Sine Die, perhaps none more debated than medical marijuana.
Next week, lawmakers are expected to take up the proposed medical marijuana bill that would establish a program in Mississippi.
State Senator Kevin Blackwell (R), the primary drafter of the bill in the state Senate, spoke with Y’all Politics about what is expected to transpire as earlier as next week.
“I hope we get to it, I believe we will and I believe we’ll do it early,” Senator Blackwell remarked. “I’m looking forward to it and it’s something we need to get done.”
A draft of the medical marijuana legislation began circulating in September and lawmakers have had the chance to review this bill for the last few of months.
“Since it’s been out there for, well, several months, lawmakers have had access to the bill. I hope there’s not too much discussion or efforts to make amendments,” Senator Blackwell said. “It would be my desire to get it passed as is and I know Representative [Lee] Yancey feels the same way on the House side. It’s kind of hard when you work on a bill that long and you got people coming in at the last minute wanting to cherry-pick little items.”
State Representative Lee Yancey has been Blackwell’s counterpart in the medical marijuana bill drafting on the House side. Both Yancey and Blackwell have been in communications over the last couple of months in efforts to negotiate this draft, both with their members and the Governor.
“The interesting part of all this is that if we pass this bill next week, there will still be time for legislators to introduce bills that would affect the medical cannabis program this session,” Blackwell said.
Blackwell said that it is likely that lawmakers will seek to pass bills based on their own beliefs about the product. Some are against smoking so they might want to introduce a bill that says you can have every form but not smoke it. Others may believe the amount able to be provided at any one time is too high and they may seek to limit it. That concern is shared by Governor Tate Reeves.
Senator Blackwell said, in his perspective of the bill, he is “following through with the will of the people.”
“We’re just trying to listen to the people and give them a program as close as we can to what Initiative 65 offered,” Blackwell said.
Last week, Governor Reeves took to Facebook and spoke out on Medical Marijuana bill, saying the question is Medical vs. Recreational.
READ MORE: Governor Reeves speaks out on Medical Marijuana bill, says the question is Medical vs. Recreational
“Medicinal or Recreational marijuana? That is the question,” Reeves wrote. “I’ve repeatedly told the members of the Legislature that I am willing to sign a bill that is truly medical marijuana. One that has reasonable restrictions to ensure that it doesn’t have an adverse effect on Mississippi’s economy. One that has reasonable restrictions to ensure that it doesn’t disrupt Mississippi families. A program that helps those Mississippians who truly need it for an illness.”
In speaking to key lawmakers, all indications are that the allowable amounts in the current form of the bill will not be changing as Reeves would prefer. This would set up a mad rush to count votes to see if the bill would be veto proof.
If those amounts are not changed in the bill, Governor Reeves could veto the bill and risk having his veto overridden by the Legislature if the votes are there. One lawmaker Y’all Politics spoke with on Thursday on condition of anonymity was not “sold” that the Legislature had a veto-proof majority as of then.
Another option would be for Governor Reeves to simply not sign the bill as passed and allow it to become law without his signature after five days.