Utilizing a creative legislative maneuver, the Mississippi Senate on Wednesday, March 10, 2021, inserted the text of an alternate Medical Marijuana program in a pending House Bill, HB 119 (introduced to extend Harper Grace’s Law – authorizing the research and dispensing of CBD oil for medical purposes). The legislation passed on a vote of 29-19. The bill now returns to the House which has until March 25, 2021, to invite conference, concur, or let the bill die on the calendar.
What it means.
Senate Bill 2765, which would have established an alternatively regulated Medical Marijuana program if Initiative 65 were to be struck down by the courts, died in the House of Representatives. The Senate’s action revives that chamber’s vision for an alternate Medical Marijuana program (which we will detail in future alerts) and requires the House to either concur in the amended bill or to invite conference to keep the original Harper’s Grace legislation alive.
With this action the possibility of an alternate Medical Marijuana program, to become effective only if the Supreme Court strikes down Initiative 65, is still alive. The use of Medical Marijuana in Mississippi 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. Briefing is complete and the Court has set oral arguments to take place on April 14, 2021, 10 days after the date the Legislature is currently set to adjourn sine die.
As we reported previously, 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.