Republican legislative leaders on Wednesday said Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves is holding up a special session intended to craft a medical marijuana program with last-minute, “unreasonable demands.”
The lawmakers, in comments to Mississippi Today, said they’ve already agreed to numerous last-minute requests from Reeves for changes to a medical marijuana proposal. They’ve worked on the language for months, but have reached an impasse with Reeves on the amount of smokable marijuana patients could have.
The holdup is over 0.7 grams of a dosage unit of marijuana flower — the amount by which Reeves wants it lowered.
‘We Have The Votes To Pass This’
“We have worked long hours on this,” GOP Rep. Lee Yancey of Brandon, said on Wednesday. “We have brought forward a bill that many have said would be the best program in the country.
“We are ready to have a special session,” an exasperated Lee said. “We have the votes to pass this. An overwhelming number in the House and Senate are ready to pass this, and we have a majority of people in Mississippi who voted for us to pass this.”
“If there is any further delay, that will be squarely on the shoulders of the governor, rather than the Legislature,” Lee said.
Legislation Replaces Voter-Approved Initiative
Lawmakers crafted legislation to create a medical marijuana program to replace one approved by voters in November but shot down by the state Supreme Court on a constitutional issue in May. Interestingly enough, activists had closely followed guidance from the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office in gathering the signatures.
Reeves, who has sole authority to call lawmakers into special session, has said for months he would do so if lawmakers reached agreement on a bill. They did so, and informed Reeves of this on Sept. 24.
But Reeves seems to be lacking in follow-through. He simply has not called lawmakers into session. The Governor has, instead, called for lawmakers to make numerous changes to their proposed program. One might easily conclude Reeves is more interested in finding roadblocks than solutions.
‘We Already Have One Of The Most Conservative Programs In The Country’
Yancey said legislative leaders agreed to numerous changes Reeves requested. But the lawmaker characterized the governor’s requested limit on the amount of Cannabis flower a patient can receive as unreasonable.
“We already would have one of the most conservative programs in the country,” Yancey said. “We told him no on that.”
Mississippi would have one of the only medical Cannabis programs in the nation with THC limits, according to Yancey. The limits would be 30% THC for smokable flower and 60% for concentrates.
Yancey said lawmakers were shocked to hear Reeves in a Tuesday press conference indicate he was pushing lawmakers to reduce THC levels as well.
“He’s never said a word to us about THC levels,” Yancey said. “It was all about dosage.”
Lawmakers Agreed To A List Of The Governor’s Demands
Yancey said lawmakers already agreed to changes Gov. Reeves proposed, including:
- Not allowing marijuana companies to receive state taxpayer funded business incentives.
- Requiring the Department of Health to conduct background checks on caregivers dispensing marijuana to patients. Yancey said lawmakers agreed to change “may” to “shall” on this provision.
- Prohibiting people convicted of certain felonies from working for marijuana companies for 10 years, instead of five years as lawmakers proposed.
- Increasing the amount of time state agencies have to issue Cannabis licenses and permits from 90 days to 120 after passage of the measure.
‘The Delay Is Not Because Of The Legislature’
“If he doesn’t want to call a special session for this, we will do it on the first week of January in regular session and he can deal with it after we pass it,” Yancey said.
“The delay is not because of the Legislature,” Yancey added. “The delay is because the governor keeps coming to us with unreasonable demands.”