Medical marijuana bill passes Senate, goes to the House for consideration
JACKSON, Miss. (WLOX) - A bill legalizing medical marijuana is one step closer to being approved after passing the state Senate Thursday morning in a 47-5 vote.
It will now go to the House of Representatives, where it will again be debated before another vote is taken. If the bill is amended, lawmakers would then need to work together to find a compromise on a bill. Once the bill is agreed upon by legislators, it will head to the governor’s desk.
If signed into law, the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act will:
- Allows patients to receive up to 3.5 ounces of marijuana a month;
- Allows people to receive medical marijuana for the 22 conditions listed in Initiative 65, such as cancer and epilepsy, and adds hepatitis, Alzheimer’s disease and spastic quadriplegia, as well as for chronic, debilitating pain;
- Allows physicians, certified nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants and optometrists to certify patients for cannabis use;
- Applies the state sales tax to retail sales of cannabis and a 5% excise tax for cultivation;
- Allows the governing boards of cities or counties to opt out of allowing medical cannabis by a vote within 90 days of passage of the act. If they opt out, citizens can opt the city or county back in by referendum;
- Will not prevent any employer from firing or refusing to hire someone who is using medical cannabis, or from having drug testing policies. Landlords are not required to allow medical cannabis production or use in rental property;
- Prevents people losing custodial or visitation rights with their children for use of medical cannabis, and says users shall not be denied the right to purchase or possess a firearm;
- Requires the Health Department to begin issuing cards to patients within 60 days of passage of the measure, and requires start of licensing of growers within 120 days and dispensaries within 150 days.
Sen. Kevin Blackwell, who authored the bill, opened remarks Thursday morning with lyrics to Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,” saying: “Everybody must get stoned.” He said he did so because of the misguided “Chicken Little, the sky is falling” skeptics that claim a program would end up in hysteria.
Blackwell brought samples of hemp to show examples of what 3.5 grams looks like, which is the amount of flower that would be allowed if passed, as well as one ounce of hemp. He also had a hemp joint and a regular cigarette for comparison, which he passed around the senate floor.
Senators spent three hours going over the details of the bill and asking questions. Questions ranged from law enforcement interactions with card holders, taxes, how it could impact conceal carry and other enforcement issues.
Below is a recap of what happened on the senate floor:
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