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Governor Reeves details progress on medical marijuana talks

Photo by News Mississippi

It’s been a little over six weeks since the State Supreme Court negated both the medical marijuana program adopted by voters and the state’s initiative process with one ruling. Since then, many Mississippians have continued to call on Governor Reeves to bring lawmakers back to Jackson to fill the voids left by the decision.

During a press conference this morning, the governor, who solely wields the power to call a special session, reiterated that both issues will have to be dealt with separately and that one may take longer than the other.

Because the state’s initiative process is in the Mississippi Constitution, any change approved by the Legislature would also have to be placed on the ballot in the next statewide election—currently slated for November 2022.

“We’ve got a little bit of time on that particular issue, and it can dealt with over the next several months,” he said.

Governor Reeves joined the growing number of leaders that have expressed support for the reinstatement, but he clarified that ballot measures should not be placed into the constitution. This was a primary concern voiced by many ahead of the approval of Initiative 65.

The medical marijuana program, to be handled by the State Department of Health, was supposed to launch in August. Despite voting against the measure, the governor expressed that he respects the will of the 74% of Mississippians that supported it and said that it’s incumbent upon the legislature to put a new program in the place of the now-defunct initiative.

Lawmakers did attempt to pass a backup plan for the initiative while awaiting the Supreme Court’s ruling, and while it was passed by the Senate, it ultimately died in the final days of the 2021 session. This morning, Governor Reeves commended Senator Kevin Blackwell, author of the bill, for his continued efforts on the matter and stated that lawmakers are making progress on a new piece of legislation.

“As I appreciate it, they are moving towards having some draft legislation within the next couple of weeks,” Reeves explained.

After a hearing at the capitol Monday, Blackwell told Mississippi Today that he believes a special session could occur in August. A special session typically will not be called until an agreement between the House and Senate is reached.

During the press conference, the governor also discussed the passage the universal licensing bill set to take effect on July 1st. Watch the full video below:

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