Mississippi-Special Session

In this Aug. 19, 2021 file photo, Gov. Tate Reeves responds to a reporter's question during a news briefing regarding Mississippi's COVID-19 response in Jackson, Miss. Reeves says he's working with legislative leaders on details about how the state will pay for a proposed medical marijuana program. The Republican governor said Wednesday, Sept. 29, that he will call lawmakers to the Capitol for a special session “sooner rather than later."

That no special session has been called to pass a medical marijuana law is an absolute failure on the part of Gov. Tate Reeves and other state leaders.

Reeves has said for months that once lawmakers reached an agreement on a bill, he would call a special session. Well, an agreement has been reached, and here we are more than a week later with no special session called.

There were some legitimate concerns raised by different state leaders and agency heads about funding for oversight functions, but lawmakers have now said they would address in the special session by appropriating start-up funds to cover the projected costs.

So what is the hold up? Two items, for sure, and maybe more.

First, there are rumblings that Reeves wants some changes to the law. Since he is the only one who can call a special session, he has the prerogative to demand changes before a session is called. But make no mistake, in this scenario, it is Reeves — and nobody else — delaying what an overwhelming majority of voters said they wanted by passing Initiative 65.

Second, there is the continued objection and saber-rattling of Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson. He makes a somewhat valid point that spreading oversight of a medical marijuana program over three agencies could lead to too much bureaucracy. But his solution of creating yet another agency to oversee the program stands in stark hypocrisy to his stated concern of bureaucracy and government waste.

Gipson is fooling nobody with the reasons he gives for objection to the bill. Gipson has a personal problem with legalizing marijuana in any form. That’s all there is to it. And while he is welcome to his personal opinions and beliefs, that’s not a good enough reason to object to voter demands and legislative wishes if this bill is passed. If Gipson has a problem with it, he can resign or not seek re-election.

But enough is enough. Lawmakers dragged their feet. Gipson threw his tantrum. And Reeves is once again trying to be a dictator when it comes to legislative policy.

Just do your jobs already. Call the special session, and pass a medical marijuana bill. 

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