US (MS): Governor Tate Reeves says medical cannabis session “sooner rather than later”

Gov. Tate Reeves is not quite ready to call a special session to establish a medical cannabis program for Mississippi, but a session is likely soon. “There is no update on exactly when the special session is going to occur, but I do anticipate that we’re going to have one sooner rather than later,” the governor said today at a press event.

Reeves acknowledged that the Legislature had a few remaining issues to work out, primarily the funding structure for the program, the management costs of which will be spread out across three government agencies. Reeves says he expects a proposal for an appropriations bill that should clarify the funding structure of the medical cannabis program.

But Mississippi’s legislative leadership appears to have worked out the core details of a medical cannabis program, meeting the precondition for a special session to enact the program and achieve the primary goal of Initiative 65, the cannabis constitutional amendment that died in the Mississippi Supreme Court earlier in the year. Legislative leadership, beginning with House Speaker Philip Gunn, explained late last week that House and Senate negotiators had agreed upon the terms of a draft.

On Friday, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann confirmed that a draft was complete and “ready for consideration,” expanding on the details of the cannabis bill in a press release. The Mississippi Free Press acquired the full draft bill, a sprawling document, 144 pages in total. But as of yet, Gov. Tate Reeves has been quiet on the prospect of a special session to adopt the bill.

If the draft bill becomes law, whether through a special session or not, medical cannabis will be available for the treatment of all conditions included in Initiative 65, “as well as hepatitis, Alzheimer’s disease, and spastic quadriplegia.”

The draft would empower physicians, nurse practitioners, and optometrists to certify patient use of cannabis but requires a “bona fide practitioner-patient relationship” in order for certification. A bona fide relationship requires the practitioner to conduct a full review of the patient’s medical history, as part of an ongoing medical relationship, including follow-up visits. 

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