SALTILLO • Gov. Tate Reeves on Tuesday said he supports calling state lawmakers back to the Capitol for a special session to address a medical marijuana program as long as state lawmakers can agree on the specifics beforehand.
Before touring an Ashley Furniture manufacturing plant in Lee County, Reeves, the only person who can call legislators back into session before January 2022, told members of the media that even though he was against the proposed medical marijuana initiative, he supports honoring the will of the vast majority of Mississippians who voted in favor of it.
“I have been in conversation with various leaders within the Mississippi Legislature, and there are conversations ongoing about what a medical marijuana program should look like,” Reeves said.
The first-term Republican governor said he won’t call lawmakers back into session until most of the specifics can be worked out prior to a special session.
“I can call them into a special session, and for $30,000 a day, they can sit around and talk and negotiate and determine what a medical marijuana plan can look like,” Reeves said. “Or I can not call them in yet, and for $0 a day, they can talk and negotiate and develop a plan.”
The Mississippi Supreme Court last month ruled that a medical marijuana initiative that more than 70% of voters supported was improperly placed on the ballot. The court also ended the state’s initiative process over procedural issues involving the state’s congressional districts.
Reeves said he supports restoring the state’s initiative process in the Constitution so that voters would have a mechanism to amend it, though he did not share specifics.
When the court tossed out the state’s initiative process, several groups were in the process of trying to place other initiatives such as early voting and Medicaid expansion on the ballot.
Restoring the initiative process would mean amending the state Constitution. To successfully change the Constitution, a two-thirds majority of both chambers of the Legislature must approve of the amendment, and a majority of voters must vote to approve it in an election.
The next regularly scheduled statewide election in Mississippi will take place in November 2022, and Reeves indicated that he was not going to call a special session to address the process.
“The timing is a little less concerning with respect to that,” Reeves said of the initiative process.
The Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee met earlier this month to discuss what type of medical marijuana program the state should adopt, in light of the court’s ruling.
Proponents of the medical marijuana initiative told lawmakers at the hearing that there were some errors in the initiative that could be tweaked, but the spirit of the initiative should still be put into state law by the Legislature.