The House of Representatives passed the Senate’s Medical Marijuana bill, but with three significant changes.
In an unexpected turn of events on Wednesday, the Mississippi House of Representatives began work on the Senate’s version of the Medical Marijuana bill (SB 2095), resulting in passage on the floor by the end of the day. After a few hours of debate and a handful of failed amendments, the bill passed by a vote 104 to 14.
The No’s came from: Scott, Barnett, Boyd, C. Brown, Calvert, J. Ford, Hobgood-Wilkes, Ladner, McLean, Morgan, Owen, Smith, Williamson, Wright.
Shortly after gaveling in and recessing subject to call, a House Drug Policy committee meeting was called. Lawmakers made their way to Room 113 and took up SB 2095, the Medical Marijuana bill that passed in the Senate just last week.
Committee members proposed an amendment to make three changes to the bill. Those changes from committee included reducing the amount of marijuana an individual could get per month from 3.5 ounces to 3 ounces. Originally, Initiative 65 allowed for up to five.
This change would get the bill nearer to what Governor Tate Reeves has indicated would be his preference of 2.8 ounces.
The Committee also removed the Mississippi Department of Agriculture from any role in the program. Commissioner of MDAC Andy Gipson has been outspoken regarding his concerns that the agency be included in the program, and the extreme degree in which that was done initially.
“I appreciate the House Drug Policy Committee removing MDAC from the medical marijuana bill,” Gipson tweeted as the House bill was debated.
There was also a change made to where cultivators and processors of medical marijuana can be located. The House committee added an additional allowance in commercially zoned areas. The original bill included industrial and agriculturally zoned areas only. All three of those zones will be allowed under the House’s changes.
Immediately after the bill was passed in committee it was brought to the House floor. Rep. Lee Yancey, Chairman of the Drug Policy Committee, presented the bill before the body.
“I am thrilled that people with debilitating illnesses will have another option for palliative relief from their suffering,” said Yancey upon passage.
Yancey reiterated to the members that the bill was brought forward after a vote of the people on a ballot initiative in November 2020. There has also been extensive conversation, public hearings, and back and forth between himself, members of the House, Senator Kevin Blackwell, members of the Senate and the Governor’s office to ensure a veto proof bill when passed. He said this program was designed to aid those who are suffering medically with debilitating illness like cancer, Parkinson’s, seizures, and the like.
Yancey spent time going over the particulars of the bill which you can find here:
The committee amendment, with the three changes, was adopted when presented in the chamber.
An additional 8 amendments were offered on the floor with none of them passing. Those ranged in content from restrictions on who can get a medical marijuana card and allowing growing anywhere and everywhere, to prohibiting members of the legislature who were part of this process from having business interest in this industry for a longer period of time than put forward in the bill.
The bill now returns to the Senate. With the changes made by the committee it is clear the legislation is not yet in its final form. The Senate will be able to concur or not concur, which could push for more back and forth between the chambers in conference.