The “Medical Marijuana Bill” has taken up an enormous amount of space on the front pages of mainstream media in Mississippi for the past 3 years. There is no doubt that there are individuals in our state who could do much better if they had access to doctor prescribed doses of cannabis. There are also those who really want a recreational marijuana program that could get more people to smoke and fewer people to work, with all the societal and family ills that entails.

My goal from day one (after the Supreme Court decision) has been to allow the first and to do everything in my power to minimize and mitigate – knowing that it is impossible to eliminate – the likelihood of the second. After all, the overwhelming majority voted for a medical marijuana program in the 2019 election and I am committed to supporting the will of the people.

I made it clear that the bill on my desk is not the one I would have drafted. But it is a fact that the legislators who drafted the final version of the bill (the 45th or 46th draft) made significant improvements to get us to the ultimate goal. Just a small sample of the improvements we fought to include in the final version of the bill:

1. Reduces the total amount an individual can receive to 3 oz. per month. This change alone will reduce the total amount by 40% compared to the original version (I asked for 50%). In other words, there will be hundreds of millions fewer joints on the streets because of this improvement.

2. The health professional can prescribe only within the framework of his practice. And they must have a relationship with the patient. And it requires an in-person visit from the patient to the medical professional.

3. Only an MD or DO can prescribe for children under 18 and only with the consent of a parent/legal guardian.

4. An MD or DO should prescribe for young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.

5. The MSDH will enact rules regarding packaging and advertising, and I trust they will do so in a way that limits the impact on our young people.

6. Prohibits any incitement to industry by the Mississippi Development Authority.

7. Protect our churches and schools from having a marijuana dispensary within 1,000 feet of their location.

Because of these program improvements (along with many other small ones that I don’t mention), SB2095 will become law. I thank all the legislators for their efforts towards these improvements and for all their hard work. I am so grateful to all of you: Mississippians who have made your voices heard.

Now hopefully we can put this issue behind us and move on to other pressing issues facing our state.