Connect with us

Politics

Republican Ohio Lawmakers Announce Marijuana Legalization Bill, Reflecting Recent Bipartisan Shift On Issue

Published

on

For years, Democratic lawmakers have mostly led the charge in pushing for marijuana legalization—but that seems to be changing of late. The latest example comes from a pair of Ohio Republican lawmakers who announced a new bill to legalize cannabis on Tuesday, a move that comes as activists are collecting signatures to put a cannabis initiative on the state’s ballot next year.

While polling has shown that marijuana reform is increasingly a bipartisan issue with voters, that attitude hasn’t been largely reflected in state legislatures across the U.S., or in Congress. But this month alone, new legalization legislation is being championed by GOP lawmakers in Pennsylvania and now Ohio.

There have also been a handful of Republican-led pushes to enact cannabis policy changes earlier in 2021 sessions, everywhere from New Hampshire to Missouri, with GOP members either sponsoring their own legislation or joining Democrats on bipartisan reform bills.

On Tuesday, Ohio Rep. Jamie Callender (R) held a press conference to unveil his new proposal, which would allow adults 21 and older to purchase and possess marijuana. The bill, whose chief cosponsor is another Republican lawmaker, Rep. Ron Ferguson, would provide regulations for the licensing of cannabis growers, distributors and retailers.

Adults “should be able to make decisions for themselves, and that’s what this bill does,” Callendar said at Tuesday’s press conference.

“I just think it’s nonsensical that we treat alcohol and marijuana differently,” he said. “It’s about personal freedom, it’s about moving the state and the country forward. It’s about going where people are going anyway.”

Limited home cultivation would be allowed, and half of revenue resulting from a 10 percent tax on adult-use marijuana sales under the bill would go to the state’s general revenue fund with the other half being divided between law enforcement and mental health and addiction treatment and recovery services. Medical cannabis would remain untaxed.

The state Department of Commerce would oversee the recreational marijuana program, and the legislation would allow existing medical cannabis businesses to enter the adult-use market while also creating a process to license new operators.

“This is an issue of individual rights, and there is strong public support for responsible laws allowing those 21 and over to legally purchase and use marijuana and marijuana products,” Ferguson said in a press release. “We believe it’s important that Ohio’s adult-use program be secure and responsible, from seed to sale.”

Callender said that although Republican legislative leaders and Gov. Mike DeWine (R) are not yet on board, “there is more bipartisan support than most people would think,” he said.

“Leadership in both chambers has expressed their skepticism—we’ll say in a polite way—but they’re giving us the chance to explain and advocate as to why this is the right policy [and] why it’s right to do it now before the federal government does it and it becomes a free for all.”

House Speaker Robert Cupp (R) laughed when he was asked about Callender’s legislation earlier on Tuesday, adding, “Let’s just see where it goes. I haven’t read it yet.”

See Cupp’s comments, around 1:25 into the video below:

Callender and Ferguson are circulating a cosponsorship memo to build support for the forthcoming legislation and are aiming to formally file the bill within the next six weeks or so.

“The time is right to do this, and this is the right vehicle to do that,” Callender said. “This is the responsible way to legalize marijuana.”


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,200 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

The legislation also contains provisions to expunge prior cannabis records and remove restrictions on participation in the legal industry by people with past convictions.

Representatives of two current medical cannabis businesses spoke in support of the new legislative push at Tuesday’s press conference.

Callender and Ferguson said that one outstanding issue in negotiations to finalize the bill is whether it will institute licensing caps.

Advocates are encouraged to see GOP legislators finally embrace marijuana legalization, as building bipartisan buy-in could be key to getting a policy change enacted in historically conservative states where reform has stalled.

Pennsylvania is a good example of that. A Republican state senator and former federal law enforcement agent announced last week that he will be filing a bill to legalize marijuana in the state—and he’s asking his colleagues to join him in the effort. He’s the second GOP senator in the state to announce support for legalizing cannabis this year.

Separately, a GOP member of the Pennsylvania House filed a bill last week that’s meant to promote research into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin mushrooms for mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder

In both Ohio and Pennsylvania, marijuana reform has been a hard sell in Republican-controlled legislatures. But both Republicans and Democrats in those and other states seem to be recognizing not just the bipartisan popularity of legalization among their constituents but the economic potential a regulated cannabis market could represent.

In July, Democratic lawmakers in Ohio formally introduced a bill to legalize marijuana possession, production and sales—the first effort of its kind in the state legislature.

Activists have also recently been cleared to begin signature gathering for a 2022 ballot initiative to legalize cannabis. If supporters collect 132,887 valid signatures from registered voters, the legislature will then have four months to adopt the measure, reject it or adopt and amended version. If lawmakers do not pass the proposal, organizers will then need to collect an additional 132,887 signatures to place the proposal before voters on the ballot during next year’s midterm election.

Callendar said that he’s not necessarily opposed to enacting legalization through a ballot measure, but “there’s a strong argument that the legislature [should be] taking the initiative and doing it.”

Meanwhile, voters in more than a dozen Ohio municipalities will separately decide on ballot measures to decriminalize marijuana next month. At least one city police department seems less than enthused about the reform, posting and then deleting a press release that warned of a societal “downhill tumble” that could result from the modest reform.

Again, what makes these latest legislative pushes in Ohio, Pennsylvania and elsewhere notable is the fact that they show a narrowing of the marijuana policy divide between Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

Medical cannabis legalization is at this point fairly uncontroversial in state legislatures, but GOP members have frequently expressed opposition to going further than providing patients access with the plant by legalizing it for recreational use.

Whether the growing bipartisan sentiment around the issue will reach Congress this session is yet to be seen. Democrats are leading bills to end federal cannabis prohibition in both chambers, and they will need to garner at least some Republican voters to get either of the bills to President Joe Biden’s desk.

Biden, however, remains opposed to adult-use legalization while state GOP lawmakers are increasingly pursuing the reform. But he has voiced support for letting states set their own marijuana policies.

A slim majority of Republicans said in a 2020 poll that they back an earlier version of a legalization bill that passed the House.

Read the cosponsorship memo on the forthcoming Ohio marijuana legalization bill below:

To: House Members & Staff

From: State Representative Jamie Callender and State Representative Ron Ferguson

Date: October 12, 2021

Re: Co-Sponsorship Request – Ohio Adult-Use Act

We will soon be introducing legislation to legalize marijuana in Ohio for Ohioans 21 and over.

This legislation, the Ohio Adult-Use Act, will:

· Legalize marijuana and marijuana products for Ohioans 21 and over that possess a valid ID,

· Establish a strong regulatory framework for the growth, processing, distribution and sale of marijuana and marijuana products,

· Implement a 10% sales tax on marijuana and marijuana products with funding dedicated to combat chemical dependence and illegal drug trafficking, and support the state General Revenue Fund.

The legislation will accomplish this through the expansion of Ohio’s existing Medical Marijuana Control Program to include adult-use of cannabis products.

Across America, state legislatures are actively discussing proposals to decriminalize marijuana, create medical marijuana programs, and fully legalize the sale and possession of cannabis products. Nearly a third of states have authorized recreational adult-use, including four this year: Connecticut, New Mexico, New York, and Virginia. Simultaneously, federal efforts to de-schedule marijuana are gaining traction.

The Ohio Adult-Use Act builds on best practices from around the country and creates a structure that puts Ohio ahead of the curve on cannabis regulations. While other states will be rushing to regulate once marijuana is de-scheduled by the federal government, Ohio will already be positioned to protect the public health and receive the greatest possible benefits offered by legalization.

Some of the main provisions of this legislation include:

– Extending Ohio’s existing medical marijuana program to oversee the growth, processing, and distribution of marijuana and marijuana products to Ohioans age 21 and over.

– Ensuring that any marijuana sold in Ohio is grown, processed, and distributed in this state.

– Building on the existing medical marijuana control framework to ensure juveniles and other Ohioans under the age of 21 are barred from access to marijuana products.

– Requiring tight controls in the marijuana cultivation and distribution processes to assure a high standard of quality and safety with the Department of Commerce in charge of compliance.

– Preventing the State of Ohio from discriminating against individuals engaged in legal, adult-use of marijuana who are seeking licensure from the state without jeopardizing employer choice or worker safety.

– Urging Congress to enact H.R. 3105 of the 117th Congress sponsored by Congressman Dave Joyce, which allows for the reasonable de-scheduling of marijuana and encouraging them to recognize the 2nd amendment rights of Ohioans who legally use cannabis products in Ohio.

The Ohio Adult-Use Act is a responsible approach that will prepare Ohio for the many changes expanded marijuana access and adult-use will bring. Please join us in supporting this proposal.

If you are interested in co-sponsoring this legislation or have any questions, please contact us at [email protected] or [email protected] by close of business on October 22nd, 2021.

Denver City Panel Pushes To Expand Psilocybin Decriminalization With Gifting And Communal Use

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based senior editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

Business

Amazon Endorses GOP-Led Bill To Federally Legalize Marijuana

Published

on

Amazon, the second largest private employer in the U.S., is backing a Republican-led bill to federally legalize, tax and regulate marijuana.

The company’s public policy division said on Tuesday that it is “pleased to endorse” the legislation from Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC), who filed the States Reform Act in November as a middle-ground alternative to more scaled back GOP proposals and wide-ranging legalization bills that are being championed by Democrats.

“Like so many in this country, we believe it’s time to reform the nation’s cannabis policy and Amazon is committed to helping lead the effort,” the company, which previously expressed support for a separate, Democratic-led legalization bill, said.

Amazon has worked to adapt to changing marijuana policies internally as it’s backed congressional reform, enacting an employment policy change last year to end drug testing for cannabis for most workers, for example.

Months after making that change—and following the introduction of the States Reform Act—Mace met with Amazon and received the company’s endorsement, Forbes reported.

“They don’t want to sell it,” the freshman congresswoman said, adding that Amazon is primarily interested in backing the reform for hiring purposes instead of as a way to eventually sell cannabis. “It opens up the hiring pool by about 10 percent.”

Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of public policy, said the bill “offers comprehensive reform that speaks to the emergence of a bipartisan consensus to end the federal prohibition of cannabis.”

Amazon’s drug testing decision was widely celebrated by reform advocates and industry stakeholders. Initially, the company only talked about ending the policy going forward. But it later disclosed that the policy change would also be retroactive, meaning former workers and applicants who were punished for testing positive for THC will have their employment eligibility restored.

The reason for the move away from marijuana testing was multifaceted, Amazon said at the time. The growing state-level legalization movement has made it “difficult to implement an equitable, consistent, and national pre-employment marijuana testing program,” data shows that drug testing “disproportionately impacts people of color and acts as a barrier to employment” and ending the requirement will widen the company’s applicant pool.

The GOP congresswoman’s bill already has the support of the influential, Koch-backed conservative group Americans for Prosperity.

The measure would end federal cannabis prohibition while taking specific steps to ensure that businesses in existing state markets can continue to operate unencumbered by changing federal rules.

Mace’s legislation has been characterized as an attempt to bridge a partisan divide on federal cannabis policy. It does that by incorporating certain equity provisions such as expungements for people with non-violent cannabis convictions and imposing an excise tax, revenue from which would support community reinvestment, law enforcement and Small Business Administration (SBA) activities.

Marijuana Moment first reported on an earlier draft version of the bill in November, and it quickly became apparent that industry stakeholders see an opportunity in the Republican-led effort.

The reason for that response largely comes down to the fact that there’s skepticism that Democratic-led legalization bills—including the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act that Amazon has also endorsed—will be able to pass without GOP buy-in. While Democrats hold majorities in both chambers, in addition to controlling the White House, the margins for passage are slim.

The MORE Act did clear the House Judiciary Committee in September, and a previous version passed the full House during the last Congress. Senate leadership is preparing to file a separate legalization proposal after unveiling a draft version in July.

Virginia House Committee Pushes Back Psychedelics Decriminalization Bill Until 2023, But Senate Proposal Still Pending

Photo courtesy of Max Pixel.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
Continue Reading

Politics

Virginia House Committee Pushes Back Psychedelics Decriminalization Bill Until 2023, But Senate Proposal Still Pending

Published

on

A bill to decriminalize a wide array of psychedelics in Virginia was taken up by a House of Delegates panel on Monday, only to be pushed off until 2023. But there’s still a separate but similar reform proposal that’s pending in the Senate.

Advocates were hopeful that a House Courts of Justice subcommittee would advance the reform, especially after an amendment from the sponsor was adopted to more narrowly apply decriminalization to medical practitioners and people using psychedelics in treatment with a practitioner.

But following some discussion of Del. Dawn Adams’s (D) bill, members approved a motion to carry it over to next year to give the legislature more time to refine it and build support. It was a disappointment for activists, and there was particular surprise that the delay motion was made by House Minority Leader Charniele Herring (D)‎, who is well known for championing marijuana legalization in the state.

Adams said in her opening remarks before the subcommittee that she has “spent considerable time hearing from researchers, meeting with both local and nationwide community advocates, speaking with veterans and personally reading dozens of publications and studies about the benefits of plant medicine.”

“What I’ve been able to learn is that there is strong evidence to support plant medicines—once thought dangerous—that really are effective and safe treatments,” she said.

There seemed to be some confusion among certain members about what the legislation would actually do.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

One member asked whether doctors would be able to prescribe psychedelics and whether the state would “see peyote stores and psilocybin stores basically popping up.”

The bill as amended wouldn’t legalize psychedelics for medical or recreational use. It would simply make it so practitioners and people participating in psychedelics treatment would face a $100 fine for possessing peyote, ibogaine, psilocybin or psilocyn. Currently, such possession is considered a Class 5 felony.

Any dollars collected from psychedelics possession violations would go to the state’s Drug Offender Assessment and Treatment Fund, which supports substance misuse treatment programs and drug courts.

But following testimony from advocates and researchers, Herring said that “there’s a lot of issues have been raised” and that she’d like to see a “prescription element” built into the legislation. Of course, because the psychedelics are federally controlled substances, doctors are precluded from prescribing them, but they could theoretically make recommendations, as is done in medical cannabis states.

In any case, the motion carried and that bill has now been set aside until next year. Now advocates are eager to see what happens with a separate, more limited reform measure that was considered in the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.

At that meeting, there was bipartisan support—including from the GOP minority leader—but also talk about making the decriminalization proposal more medically focused. The sponsor, Sen. Ghazala Hashmi (D), agreed to go back and make revisions so that the panel could reconsider it at a future meeting. The expectation was that it would be taken back up this week, but it’s not currently listed on the panel’s agenda for Wednesday.

The bill is scaled back compared to the House version because, as drafted, it would only decriminalize psilocybin and psilocyn by adults 21 and older. It’s unclear what kind of amendments the sponsor might offer when the committee takes up the legislation again.

At a recent virtual event organized by the reform group Decriminalize Nature Virginia, the sponsors of both bills participated as hosts, sharing their perspectives about the growing body of research indicating that psychedelics could be powerful tools to combat conditions like treatment-resistant depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

If the legislature does approve the legislation, it could face resistance from the state’s incoming Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, who has expressed concerns about implementing a commercial marijuana market in line with what the Democratic legislature and outgoing governor approved last year.

These psychedelics reform proposals are some of the latest to be introduced in state legislatures this session as the decriminalization movement spreads.

For example, two Republican Oklahoma lawmakers recently filed bills meant to promote research into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin, and one of the measures would further decriminalize low-level possession of the psychedelic.

A GOP Utah lawmaker also introduced a bill last week that would set up a task force to study and make recommendations on the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs and possible regulations for their lawful use.

In Kansas, A lawmaker also recently filed a bill to legalize the low-level possession and cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms.

A Republican Missouri lawmaker introduced a bill this month to give residents with serious illnesses legal access to a range of psychedelic drugs like psilocybin, ibogaine and LSD  through an expanded version of the state’s existing right-to-try law.

California Sen. Scott Wiener (D) told Marijuana Moment in a recent interview that his bill to legalize psychedelics possession stands a 50/50 chance of reaching the governor’s desk this year. It already cleared the full Senate and two Assembly committees during the first half of the two-year session.

In Michigan, a pair of state senators introduced a bill in September to legalize the possession, cultivation and delivery of various plant- and fungi-derived psychedelics like psilocybin and mescaline.

Washington State lawmakers also introduced legislation this month that would legalize what the bill calls “supported psilocybin experiences” by adults 21 and older.

In Vermont, a broad coalition of lawmakers representing nearly a third of the House introduced a bill to decriminalize drug possession.

New Hampshire lawmakers filed measures to decriminalize psilocybin and all drugs.

Last year, the governor of Connecticut signed legislation that includes language requiring the state to carry out a study into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin mushrooms.

At the congressional level, bipartisan lawmakers sent a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) this month, urging that the agency allow terminally ill patients to use psilocybin as an investigational treatment without the fear of federal prosecution.

Oklahoma Republicans File Bills To Decriminalize Psilocybin And Encourage Research On Medical Benefits

Photo elements courtesy of carlosemmaskype and Apollo.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
Continue Reading

Politics

Mississippi Lawmakers Reach Deal To Send Medical Marijuana Bill To Governor This Week

Published

on

Mississippi House and Senate lawmakers have reached an agreement to send a bill to legalize medical marijuana to the governor’s desk this week. Following Senate action on Tuesday, the bill will now go to a bicameral conference committee to finalize details of the legislation, with votes in both chambers for final passage expected on Wednesday.

Sen. Kevin Blackwell (R) and Rep. Lee Yancey (R) discussed the agreement at a press conference on Tuesday. There was an opportunity for a concurrence vote in the Senate—where the bill originated and advanced to the House this month and was then amended—but following pushback from the Mississippi Municipal League (MML) over a House change related to zoning rules for cannabis businesses, the Senate voted against concurrence and will instead move the measure to conference.

This comes more than 14 months after voters in Mississippi passed an initiative to legalize medical cannabis—a law the state Supreme Court later overturned. And the bill that’s being tweaked again is the result of months of negotiations and last-minute changes to a nearly 450-page bill.

“This has been a long journey, and it’s nice to be in a place where everyone is in agreement,” Yancey said on Tuesday. “It looks like we will finally be able to provide relief to those people with debilitating illnesses who so badly need it. Medical cannabis will now be an option for them as soon as we get the conference report signed and sent to the governor.”

While the overall bill will remain largely the same as an earlier version passed by the Senate this month, the recent House amendments reduced the overall monthly amount of cannabis products available to patients, removed the Department of Agriculture and Commerce from oversight of the industry and expanded zoning allowances for cannabis cultivators and processors.

Only the zoning allowances provision will change. Instead of allowing cultivators and processors to operate in commercial zoning areas, as would have been allowed under the bill as amended by the House, they would only be permitted in industrial or agriculture zoned areas, satisfying MML.

Assuming that conference goes as planned, the legislature will then formally transmit the bill to Gov. Tate Reeves (R), who then has five days, excluding Sundays, either to sign it into law or return it with objections. Both the Senate and House, however, have passed the legislation with veto-proof majorities. If the governor doesn’t take any action by the deadline, the bill will become law without his signature.

Reeves has been wary of legalization in recent months, at one point threatening to veto a draft bill if it made it to his desk. Since then, proponents in the legislature have worked to balance the voter-approved initiative’s more permissive proposals against the governor’s calls for tighter restrictions.

The governor said last week that the measure has become “better” with every revision and rightly predicted further amendments by the House.

Provided the bill becomes law, dispensaries would be licensed about six months later, meaning Mississippi’s medical cannabis program could be up and running, at least in limited form, by the end of the year.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

The bill, SB 2095, draws heavily from provisions negotiated by lawmakers in the second half of last year, as legislative leaders prepared a bill for an anticipated special session last summer that the governor never called. Supporters say the lengthy proposal represents a middle ground between the more permissive plan approved by voters and the narrower approach preferred by Reeves and some lawmakers.

The legislation as amended by the House would allow patients with about two dozen qualifying medical conditions to purchase the equivalent of 3.5 grams of marijuana (or 1 gram of cannabis concentrate) per day, with a maximum monthly limit of 3 ounces. Voters approved a monthly limit of 5 ounces in 2020, and the bill as passed by the Senate last week would have allowed 3.5 ounces, but that was further scaled back by the House earlier this week.

Qualifying conditions under the bill include cancer, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, muscular dystrophy, glaucoma, spastic quadriplegia, HIV, AIDS, hepatitis, Alzheimer’s, sickle-cell anemia, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, neuropathy, spinal cord disease or severe injury as well as chronic medical conditions or treatments that produce severe nausea, cachexia or wasting, seizures, severe or persistent muscle spasms or chronic pain.

Further conditions could be added later by regulators via petition. State-issued patient registration cards would cost $25, though some people could qualify for a lower price.

Registered patients would be subject to purchase limits that would restrict them to no more than one “medical cannabis equivalency unit” per day, which the bill defines as 3.5 grams of cannabis flower, one gram of concentrate or up to 100 milligrams of THC in infused products. While those limits are significantly lower than in most states where cannabis is legal for medical patients, Reeves said last year the program should allow only half those amounts.

Patients or caretakers would be forbidden from growing their own cannabis under the proposal. Products from state-licensed companies, meanwhile, would be limited to 30 percent THC for cannabis flower and 60 percent for concentrates.

There would be no limit on the number of licensed businesses under the plan.

Medical marijuana would be taxed at a wholesale rate of 5 percent, and purchases would also be subject to state sales tax.

While smoking and vaping cannabis is allowed for patients, both would be illegal in public and in motor vehicles. It would still be a crime for patients to drive under the influence.

The legislation would task the Mississippi Department of Health to oversee the new industry and establish a nine-member advisory committee to make recommendations on issues such as patient access and industry safety.

Previous versions of the bill also tasked the state Commission of Agriculture and Commerce with regulatory duties, but the House removed the agency through an amendment. Commissioner Andy Gipson, who for months had pushed back against the plan, thanked House Speaker Philip Gunn and other lawmakers for making the change in a statement issued last week.

“The best place for a truly medical program is under the Department of Health, which reflects the will of the voters in Initiative 65,” Gipson said, according to SuperTalk Mississippi. “This change is good policy for Mississippi agriculture and allows us to focus on our core mission. It is also good policy for the taxpayers of Mississippi because it achieves greater efficiency in the use of funds by reducing the number of agencies involved in the program.”

Licensing of cannabis businesses other than dispensaries—including cultivators, processors, transporters, disposal entities, testing labs and research facilities—would begin 120 days after the bill’s passage, with the first licenses issued about a month after that. The dispensary licensing process would kick off 150 days after passage, with the first licenses coming a month later.

Cannabis businesses may have to get seek local approval to operate, and municipalities can adopt zoning and land use restrictions. In general, local governments could not ban medical cannabis businesses outright or “make their operation impracticable,” the bill says, but a separate provision would allow local governments to opt out of the program altogether within 90 days of the bill’s passage. In such cases, citizens could then petition to put the question to a vote.

Mississippi voters decisively approved a broad legalization initiative in November 2020. The state Supreme Court overturned the measure on procedural grounds last May—simultaneously doing away with the state’s entire initiative process.

For much of last year, it appeared lawmakers were set to pass a medical marijuana bill during a special legislative session, but the governor ultimately decided against calling the special session after reaching an impasse with lawmakers. Those who supported legalization said at the time that responsibility for the failure rested with Reeves.

Later that month, Reeves dodged questions from patient advocates about why he’d failed to call the special session. Then in late December, he said on social media that he had “repeatedly told the members of the Legislature that I am willing to sign a bill that is truly medical marijuana,” but stressed that there should be “reasonable restrictions.”

Last week, before the House floor vote, Yancey, who chairs the House Drug Policy Committee and who’s been working on the legislation with Blackwell, said that he never imagined he’d be in the position to legalize cannabis. But he said he worked to ensure the bill was focused on providing medicine to patients, not paving a route to a recreational program as critics have claimed.

“When I got involved in this bill, I said, ‘How can we build a wall around this program so the people who get it are the people who need it the most, and only the people who need it the most?” Yancey said. “This is not for everybody out on the street. This is not for a bunch of kids. This is for hurting people with debilitating conditions.”

A poll released in June found that a majority of Mississippi voters support legalizing marijuana for both medical and recreational use, with 63 percent saying they want the legislature to pass a bill that mirrors the ballot measure that was nullified by the Supreme Court.

New York Doctors Can Now Recommend Medical Marijuana To Patients For Any Condition They See Fit

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Marijuana News In Your Inbox

Support Marijuana Moment

Marijuana News In Your Inbox

Marijuana Moment