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Mississippi Senate passes medical marijuana bill with 46-5 vote

Medical marijuana
Photo by SuperTalk Mississippi News

On Thursday morning, Senator Kevin Blackwell jokingly addressed the Mississippi Senate with lyrics from Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Woman #12 and 35.”

“Well, they’ll stone you when you’re trying to be so good
They’ll stone you just like they said they would

Well, they’ll stone you when you’re walking on the street
They’ll stone you when you’re tryin’ to keep your seat

They’ll stone you when you’re tryin’ to make a buck
Then they’ll stone you and then they’ll say ‘good luck’

They’ll stone you when you’re riding in your car
They’ll stone you when you’re playing your guitar
Yes, but I would not feel so all alone
Everybody must get stoned”

Smiles and laughs filled the chamber, stemming from Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann, giving onlookers the notion that most lawmakers present were already in agreement.

That proved to be just the case when senators approved the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act of 2022 with a vote of 46-5.

Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know about Senate Bill 2095.

  • Patients can receive up to 3.5 grams per day, the equivalent of one ounce every eight days.
  • 22 medical conditions, including cancer and epilepsy, are covered in the bill.
  • Physicians, certified nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, and optometrists can certify patients for cannabis use. Patients are required to have an in-person assessment with a follow-up appointment six months later. Qualifications are stricter for those aged 18-25.
  • The state sales tax of 7% (which would be moved up to 8.5% if the “Mississippi Tax Freedom Act of 2022” passes the Senate and is signed into law) will be applied to all cannabis sales. There’s also a 5% excise tax for cultivation.
  • Strict reporting requirements will be placed on both cannabis businesses and practitioners.
  • Cities and counties can opt out.
  • Cannabis businesses cannot be within 1,000 feet of a school, church, or daycare.
  • The Mississippi State Department of Health is in charge of issuing cards.

SB2095 comes 14 months after 74 percent of voters approved Initiative 65, a grassroots medical marijuana program. Five months later, the Mississippi Supreme Court struck down the medical marijuana program in what was a peculiar lawsuit, ruling that it was improperly placed on the ballot.

In September, Speaker of the House Philip Gunn told SuperTalk Mississippi News that House and Senate leadership were “in agreement” on a bill and that he was going to get together with Hosemann to “inform the governor we are ready.”

Constant speculation suggested that Governor Tate Reeves was going to call a special session, but it never happened. The first-term governor cited “unreasonable demands” with the basis of his argument surrounding the amount of marijuana a patient is allowed.

Reeves still believes 3.5 grams is too high, going on a Facebook tirade last month, but lawmakers stood strong in what they believe should be the one-day medical dosage unit on Thursday.

The next step in what’s been a lengthy process is that the bill will head over to the House of Representatives for a vote.

 

This story has been updated. The original stated that the vote was 47-5. After further look, voting record shows that Senator Josh Harkins was present but chose not to vote. 

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