Mississippi Senate passes medical marijuana bill; House vote is next

The Mississippi state Senate on Thursday passed a medical marijuana law, sending it to the House of Representatives, where approval is less certain.

The legislative action came more than a year after voters soundly approved a legalization initiative at the ballot box, only to see the state Supreme Court void the measure on a technical issue.

Senate Bill 2095, the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act of 2022, is more restrictive than the business-friendly Initiative 65 passed by voters.

One major difference is that the legislation would allow municipalities to opt out of the industry.

House Speaker Philip Gunn has said legalization “is not a top issue for us,” according to Mississippi Today.

But Republican Rep. Lee Yancey, who is spearheading the effort in the House, expressed optimism to the newspaper about its chances of passage.

It’s also unclear whether the current version would be acceptable to Republican Gov. Tate Reeves.

Reeves wouldn’t call a special legislative session last year to pass a measure and most recently expressed concerns about the amount of marijuana that would be allowed to be purchased by MMJ patients.

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Here are some key business elements to the proposed bill, according to Mississippi Today:

  • Patients could purchase up to 3.5 ounces of marijuana a month. That’s slightly lower than the 5 ounces a month in the 2020 referendum.
  • Cultivation would be indoor only. There would be six cultivation tiers, ranging from a micro-cultivator capped at 1,000 square feet to a tier 6 grower of 100,000 square feet or more.
  • Roughly 25 patient conditions would qualify, including all 22 that were in Initiative 65.
  • A seed-to-sale tracking system would be created, and the proposed law calls for criminal penalties for violations.
  • A 5% excise tax would be imposed for cultivation in addition to the state sales tax (currently 7%) for retail sales.