A bill that would create a medical marijuana program in Mississippi is now headed to Gov. Tate Reeves’ desk for a signature.
While there are some minor changes in the form of Senate Bill 2095, known as the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act, that will reach the governor’s desk, none of the loopholes that all open up at year’s end were altered in the final bill.
In one day, the two chambers reached a compromise known as a conference report and passed it through both chambers with big majorities. The Senate quickly passed the conference report 46-4 with one present vote and the House passed it by a 103-13 margin in the afternoon.
The changes, according to state Rep. Lee Yancey, R-Brandon, include a “tightening” of language that allowed both cultivation and processing facilities in areas zoned by cities and counties as commercial, agricultural or industrial.
The new language says these facilities can be in an area only if approved by local authorities. Despite this language, cities and counties would be prohibited from passing ordinances forbidding all dispensaries from being located in their jurisdiction.
“We’re allowing home rule and allowing the municipality or the county to decide whether or not they wish to allow that.”
The Senate agreed with the change by the House Drug Policy Committee, which removed the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce and replaced it as the responsible agency with the Department of Health.
The amount of cannabis that a medical marijuana card holder could procure is six doses per week or a total of 21 grams of cannabis flower (the psychoactive part of the plant).
SB 2095 was authored by state Sen. Kevin Blackwell, R-Southaven.
The loopholes in the bill that will likely expire on December 31 before a program gets under way include:
- A ban on lawmakers and their spouses owning dispensaries, cultivation, or processing facilities.
- A requirement that the owner of a medical marijuana facility be either a state resident of three years and a U.S. citizen or the facility’s ownership has 35 percent of its shares owned by those who meet the residency requirements.