Mississippi lawmakers finally agree on medical cannabis bill

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After more than a year of disagreements, Mississippi lawmakers may have finally produced a medical cannabis bill that will become law. Members of the Mississippi House and Senate announced last Tuesday a final agreement on a text that wants to create a therapeutic cannabis program in the state.

The central sticking point was how often and how much cannabis a patient can buy. According to the bill, patients would be allowed “to purchase 3.5 grams of cannabis up to six times per week, or approximately 3 ounces per month, reversing the 5 ounces per month enacted by state voters in of the November 2020 vote.

The bill also adds a 7% sales tax and a 5% excise tax on cannabis.

The text must now be presented to the governor, Tate Reeves, long opposed to the principle of medical cannabis. He will have the choice of signing the bill, vetoing it, or letting it become law without his signature.

If the text becomes law, Mississippi would become the 37th US state to legalize the medical use of cannabis.

Obstacle course

A majority of voters (70%) in Mississippi approved the 2020 ballot initiative to legalize medical cannabis in Mississippi, but that triumph quickly gave way to a long series of setbacks for the sick.

The Mississippi Supreme Court struck down the ballot initiative last year, citing a technicality that made it against the state constitution. The court’s decision prompted lawmakers to begin drafting a bill to replace the passed proposal.

The bill easily passed the state House last week, a week after the state Senate passed its own version, allowing lawmakers in both houses to negotiate a compromise.

Governor Tate Reeves was against the ballot initiative, but he said last year that he supports “the will of the voters” and had encouraged lawmakers to produce a bill to replace the one struck down by the Supreme Court.

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