National advocates comment on Mississippi medical cannabis victory

National advocates comment on Mississippi medical cannabis victory (full bill text)

On Wednesday, Gov. Tate Reeves signed a Mississippi medical cannabis program into law. While he expressed his resistance, Reeves bowed to the inevitable. The state legislature passed Senate Bill 2095, known as the Mississippi Medical Medical Cannabis Act, with strong support.

The victory comes after a long and dirty fight. (Full text of the bill below.)

Mississippi voters approved a medical cannabis program through a ballot initiative in November, 2020. However, the new law was challenged in the state’s Supreme Court, which ultimately declared it invalid the following May. After initially signaling the possibility of a special legislative session to address the issue, Reeves made voters wait until the next regular session began last month.

Related: Gov. Tate Reeves signs Mississippi medical cannabis into law

The state legislature passed the bill in January with overwhelming majorities; enough to override Reeves’s threatened veto. Following the signing of the bill into law on Wednesday, national cannabis reform advocacy groups responded to the news.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) with comments from Jax James, State Policies Manager.

“Marijuana access is long overdue for Mississippi’s patients,” NORML’s State Policies Manager Jax James said. “The overwhelming majority of voters decided in favor of this policy change over a year ago, and for the past 14 months the will of the people has been denied.”

While James acknowledged that the new law represents a significant step forward for Mississippi’s patient community, she also expressed concerns regarding several of its provisions and omissions. “We remain concerned that lawmakers saw fit to add unnecessary taxes on cannabis products, that patients are prohibited from home-cultivating limited amounts of cannabis for their own personal use, and that those with chronic pain are restricted from accessing cannabis products until first using more dangerous and addictive substances like opioids,” she said.

NORML press release

The Marijuana Policy Project also issued a press release with statements from Toi Hutchinson, President and CEO, and Kevin Caldwell, Southeast legislative manager.

“With this victory, tens of thousands of Mississippians with debilitating health conditions will finally be able to safely and legally access something that can alleviate their pain and improve their quality of life. Mississippi now serves as the latest example that medical cannabis legalization is possible in any state in the country. We are hopeful that this move will add to the growing momentum towards cannabis policy reform in the South,” said Toi Hutchinson, president and CEO of the Marijuana Policy Project.

“Despite tremendous support, Mississipians faced an uphill battle for a medical cannabis program. With this new law, justice has finally prevailed. Patients in Mississippi who are seriously ill will no longer be subject to arrest and criminal penalties for using medical cannabis and instead will be met with compassion. We applaud the legislature for working to restore the will of the voters in one of the most conservative states in the nation and Gov. Reeves for signing it into law,” said Kevin Caldwell, Southeast legislative manager at the Marijuana Policy Project. 

Marijuana Policy Project press release