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Lawmakers strike deal on medical marijuana proposal, paving way for special session

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A special session appears to be on the horizon with lawmakers seemingly in agreement on the language of a medical marijuana proposal, according to Speaker of the House Philip Gunn.

Speaker Gunn made the announcement on SuperTalk Mississippi and shared that Representative Lee Yancey and Senator Kevin Blackwell have drafted a bill that would create a medical marijuana program in the state. Gunn stated that he will meet with Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann to ensure they have the necessary votes before informing Governor Tate Reeves of their readiness for a special session.

Speaking on the specifics of the bill, which will originate in the Senate should a special session be called, Gunn explained that Alabama’s recently adopted law was used as a “road map” for the proposal.

Details shared by the speaker include that smoking marijuana will be allowed as a form of consumption for those who receive a prescription from a licensed physician, provisions will attempt to limit packaging designed to entice children, marijuana will be subject to the general sales tax and an additional excise tax, and that all growing will be done indoors. Potency limits will also be set by the legislature.

Individual cities and counties will be able to opt out within 60 days of the passage of the bill, but they can opt back in at any point. Gunn stated that residents in those municipalities can also move forward with a referendum to get it on the ballot.

The program, under the proposal, would be overseen by the Mississippi State Department of Health with the Department of Revenue and the Department of Agriculture and Commerce sharing additional responsibilities. Ag Commissioner Andy Gipson has repeatedly stated his request that his agency not be involved in the program.

Plenty more details will emerge in the coming days, but for the time being, the ball is in the governor’s court as he alone wields the authority to call a special session.

The conversation surrounding medical marijuana in Mississippi has been a lengthy one following the demise of Initiative 65 at the hands of the State Supreme Court in May following its adoption by Mississippi voters. A backup plan was passed by the Senate during the 2021 session, but it died in the House.

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