Both chambers of Mississippi’s legislature have approved legislation that would legalize medical cannabis in the state. The Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act (SB 2095), sponsored by Sen. Kevin Blackwell (R), now heads to the governor’s desk.
SB 2095 passed the House of Representatives with a vote of 103-13 and the Senate with a vote of 46-4 (with one abstention) on Wednesday after both chambers finalized details of the legislation during a bicameral conference committee. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) will have five days (excluding Sundays) to act on the bill. If he does nothing, it will become law without his signature. Both the House and Senate margins in votes would be sufficient to override a veto.
“With the passage of SB 2095, today is an historic day for the patients of Mississippi,” said Kevin Caldwell, MPP’s Southeast legislative manager. “We would like to thank Sen. Kevin Blackwell and Rep. Lee Yancy for their leadership on this issue that is so important to so many patients and we call on Gov. Tate Reeves to sign this legislation into law when presented to him. When this bill becomes law, only 13 states will remain without a medical cannabis law. We look forward to seeing that number continue to dwindle and patients across the nation having access to this medicine. We will continue to fight for access in the remaining states without medical programs.”
On November 3, 2020, 69% of Mississippi voters cast their ballots in favor of enacting a medical cannabis program. On that same ballot, 74% voted for a broad program — Initiative 65 — while rejecting a far more restrictive alternative lawmakers had placed on the ballot, Initiative 65A. Subsequently, the state Supreme Court found that the state’s signature requirements for ballot measures could not be complied with and threw out not only Initiative 65, but also the entire state’s ballot initiative process.
To date, 36 states — including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, and Louisiana — have laws providing the framework for patients with debilitating medical conditions to have access to regulated cannabis products under a doctor’s care.
Several other states, including Nebraska, South Carolina, and Tennessee, are expected to seriously consider enacting a medical cannabis law in the coming year.