Medical cannabis has had a wild ride in Mississippi. In late 2020, voters approved a ballot measure to legalize it. In May, the state Supreme Court overturned that measure. And, late last month, lawmakers passed a bill to make it legal.
On Wednesday, after all of that, medical cannabis became law with Gov. Tate Reeves’ signature. That signature, though, came with the same tone of reservation that Reeves has expressed throughout the process. In a statement released upon his signing, Reeves stated clearly that “the bill on my desk is not the one that I would have written.”
“There is no doubt that there are individuals in our state who could do significantly better if they had access to medically prescribed doses of cannabis,” he wrote, adding, “There are also those who really want a recreational marijuana program that could lead to more people smoking and less people working, with all of the societal and family ills that that brings.”
He continued, “My goal from Day 1 (post Supreme Court ruling) has been to allow for the former and do everything in my power to minimize and mitigate – though knowing it is impossible to eliminate – the likelihood of the latter.”
Under SB 2095, registered patients can purchase up to 3.5 grams of cannabis flower each day (and no more than a total of 3 ounces of flower within a month). The state is capping THC at 30% for flower and 60% for concentrates, and cannabis sold at retailers will be taxed at an additional 5% on top of the sales tax. The state will not cap the number of shops.
The new law is the result of extensive negotiations that took place last year, as Cannabis Wire reported. Lawmakers, expecting a special session, presented Reeves with the bill in September, but the governor never called one. Lawmakers started working on the bill before the state Supreme Court decided in May to overturn Initiative 65, a medical cannabis legalization measure passed by voters in November 2020.
“There were a lot of hours, a lot of input, a lot of meetings with different agencies,” Senator Kevin Blackwell, who crafted the bill with Representative Lee Yancey, told Cannabis Wire in September. “We met with people from outside the state who are currently in the business. We talked to patients, talked to advocates for Initiative 65, as well as this social media group that sprung up afterward called ‘We are the 74.’ So we’ve reached a good number of people to get input to craft this, and that’s part of why it’s taken about four months for us to get to that point.”