Fasten your seatbelts, folks, Mississippi’s medical marijuana program is finally fueled-up and revving the engines! Yep, it’s true, after years and years of misfiring and an emotionally exhausting last 14 months of wrestling with ‘the people’s’ Prop 65, the state Supreme Court’s abysmal and unjust ruling against us and then the Governor’s gamesmanship, the Legislature has signed, sealed, and delivered their contribution to the saga. The measure is now, enrolled. No, Senator Kevin Blackwell, R-Southaven’s bill (SB 2095) isn’t perfect, but it is still very good. As we all know, the “sausage-making” process is an ugly one and it’s more repulsive in some states than others – that’s why the smart money is on avoiding it altogether, if ya can. That is, in fact, where the ~74% of participating Mississippi citizens put their proverbial ‘money’ back in November of 2020 when they earned the right to bypass, more or less, the MS Legislature. Regrettably, the state Supreme Court was feeling unconstrained by any core democratic principles or just justice itself on May 14, 2021 when they discarded the overwhelming will of their citizenry and overturned the Secretary of State’s certification of the 11/20 election.
But now it’s done. With few good options available, the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association, Representative Joel Bomgar, and other supporters decided to go the Legislative route…again. Senator Blackwell and Representative Lee Yancey, R-Brandon led the way. From my perspective, it’s obvious that Proposition 65 was better law than the final legislative instrument embodied in SB 2095, but still the measure represents a success, a very solid starting point, and a cause for celebration. After all, we should never ever lose site of the fact that the ultimate goal is getting oft desperately needed medicine to the people. And the patients of Mississippi are indeed on their way to receiving this medicine. No medical Cannabis program is born perfect, but merely emerges in a form that must be mended, measured, and improved over time. So in that very real sense, this is only the beginning of the next critical stage in the evolution of another deep southern state’s nascent medical marijuana program. The only remaining unanswered question of any significance is whether Governor Reeves will sign the bill. Hint: He will!
All signs point to a positive outcome in this regard. Our friend Ken pointed out that the Governor got 7.9 out of the 8 things he wanted and so sagely stated, “I don’t know how he doesn’t see that as a win.” And by any tethered metric, of course, it is. Add to that the margin of victory for the final version of SB 2095 in both chambers which was 46-4 in the Senate and then 103-13 in the House and you arrive at a veto-proof measure. While conventional wisdom counsels that a legislative body controlled by one party tends to abhor the task of overriding a veto by a governor or president of that same party, it’s also true that most legislators don’t like having a painstakingly considered, rigorously debated, and almost universally popular bill vetoed either. Neither do most people appreciate being lied to and lest we forget – there was the assurance of a special session that simply just ultimately never came. In Mississippi, only the Governor can convene a special session. So, if I’m going on record with a guess, it is to say that I believe he’ll sign it within the next five (5) days or no later than February 1st (the Governor gets five days exclusive of Sundays). As a fall back, I predict that he’d simply allow it to become law without his signature, but again that would happen by February 1, 2022. I simply don’t think he’s foolish enough to actually veto a proposal that has the backing of a veto-proof super-majority of the Legislature and the approval of what would likely land somewhere between 51% and 74% of voting Mississippians. After all, whatever you think of him, he can count votes and at the end of the day, he’s still a politician. If I’m wrong, the Legislative leadership still has all the votes and all the time it needs to override him in this same session.