The commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce is asking that his agency be left out of any potential medical marijuana program.
As lawmakers continue to work toward a deal on medical marijuana legislation following the demise of Initiative 65, Commissioner Andy Gipson sent a letter to legislative leaders reiterating his stance that he remains “adamantly opposed” to overseeing such a program as a long as marijuana remains a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance.
Commissioner Gipson joined SuperTalk Mississippi this morning to emphasize his belief that any medical marijuana program should not be placed under his purview, saying that the agency handles food, fiber, shelter and “legal commerce in the state of Mississippi.”
“Republicans, I think we believe in less government and less regulation and more freedom, and I’m not sure that the bill being discussed in the legislature right reflects those principles. Somebody has made a decision to put the Department of Agriculture over it, which makes no sense. We don’t do anything that there asking us to do, so it’s going to grow the size of this agency, which is another thing Republicans don’t believe in. So, I’ve just asked to be left out of it,” he said.
The commissioner expressed that the agency, if involved in the program, would have to hire a director and additional staff to sustain it.
Speaking on the legality issue, Gipson says he has yet to receive an answer to several questions as it relates to the commerce portion of the program.
“Nobody can answer the question to me how it legally gets here absent some immaculate conception in Mississippi. How does the seed get here legally without breaking federal law,” Gipson asked while explaining that it’s currently prohibited from being transported into the state.
Gipson also stated that Initiative 65 placed the program under the Department of Health and he argues that lawmakers should stick to what he voters adopted. He did express his willingness to meet with lawmakers to discuss the proposal.
Rep. Lee Yancey and Senator Kevin Blackwell are leading the drafting efforts in their respective chambers, and while several lawmakers continue to state they are close to a deal, nothing has been made official at this point. If a deal is struck, Governor Tate Reeves could then call a special session so that the program can be adopted quickly.