Mississippi gov: Still no word on medical marijuana session

State / Regional

Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, left, and Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, right, listen as Sam Polles, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, center, explains his agency’s budget needs during a meeting of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee in Jackson, Miss., Friday, Sept. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves on Monday was still not saying whether he will call legislators into special session to enact a medical marijuana program and consider other issues that House and Senate leaders are promoting.

“Nothing today,” Reeves spokeswoman Bailey Martin said in response to a question from The Associated Press.

Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and House Speaker Philip Gunn said Friday that they want Reeves to set a special session because negotiators from the two chambers have agreed on a medical marijuana proposal, and they believe they’ve lined up enough votes to pass it.

Hosemann and Gunn, both Republicans, also want legislators to approve financial help for hospitals that are trying to keep enough nurses and other employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, authorize death benefit payments for law enforcement officers and first responders who die of COVID-19, and set aside money for shelters that help victims of child abuse and domestic violence.

Only a governor can call a special session and set the agenda. Hosemann and Gunn said they think the House and Senate could complete all the work in a single day.

The medical marijuana proposal would replace a voter-approved initiative that the state Supreme Court overturned in May. Justices said the state’s initiative process is outdated, so the medical marijuana measure was not properly on the ballot last November.

The new proposal would allow cities and counties to opt out of allowing the cultivation, processing or sale of medical marijuana, but it would also let local voters seek an election to reverse the decisions of those governing boards.

The new proposal also would set taxes, require that medical marijuana be grown only indoors and limit the amount of the drug that could be purchased each month by patients or their caregivers. It also would set licensing and regulatory responsibilities for the state Department of Health and the state Department of Agriculture and Commerce.

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