On Thursday, March 18, 2021, the Mississippi House of Representatives voted to Invite Conference on House Bill 119, legislation that includes an alternate Medical Marijuana program previously passed by the Mississippi Senate. HB 119, originally introduced to extend Harper Grace’s Law – authorizing the research and dispensing of CBD oil for medical purposes, now faces a deadline of March 29, 2021, for House and Senate conferees to file a Conference Report.
What it means.
The House’s action keeps the possibility of an alternate Medical Marijuana program alive, for now. The next step in the legislative process is for the Lt. Governor and the Speaker of the House to each appoint three (3) conferees to hammer out a final version of the bill, one that may or may not include the Medical Marijuana program. The current version of the alternate program inserted into HB 119 by the Senate provides that it will become effective only if the Supreme Court strikes down Initiative 65, the Medical Marijuana measure that was approved by nearly 74% of those voting on the initiative last November. The citizen measure was quickly challenged through a direct action filed in the Mississippi Supreme Court, which is still pending.
The Legislature’s actions do not affect the current deadlines imposed by Initiative 65, which requires the Mississippi State Department of Health to adopt final rules and regulations to govern the program no later than July 1, 2021, and for the agency to begin issuing licenses and Medical Marijuana identification cards for patients no later than August 15 of this year.