The Current Status of SB 2765 at the Mississippi Legislature

McLaughlin PC

The Current Status of SB 2765 at the Mississippi Legislature

The future of Mississippi’s medical marijuana program has been somewhat hazy even after 74% of Mississippi voters approved Initiative 65 in November 2020.  The first hurdle is overcoming an attempt by the City of Madison, Mississippi to nullify that vote through a technical challenge currently pending before the Mississippi Supreme Court, which is hearing oral arguments by the respective parties on April 14. The second potential issue is Senate Bill 2765, which was introduced in January 2021 at the Mississippi Legislature as another legislative alternative to the medical marijuana program created by Initiative 65, though there is some recent good news on that front.

SB 2765 has an interesting history and only made it out of the Senate after some unorthodox late night/early morning maneuvering. When the bill was transferred to the House, it was ultimately assigned to the Ways and Means Committee. On Tuesday, March 2, a deadline day for reporting bills out of committee originating in the other chamber, the Ways and Means committee chairman called a late afternoon meeting to take up SB 2765.  

As initially drafted, SB 2765 would have created a drastically different medical marijuana program than that created by Initiative 65. Among many other variances, it contained a cap on the number of licenses available for medical marijuana businesses and only required the Department of Health to authorize one dispensary per county. It also established strict zoning provisions and required patients to only shop at one designated dispensary. Though slightly revised, the version transferred to the House was still a conceptual departure from what Mississippi voters overwhelmingly approved. 

In a strategic move, Representative Joel Bomgar offered an amendment in the committee meeting on Tuesday to replace the current language of the bill with the text from Initiative 65, a motion that the committee approved, as first reported by Mississippi Today. Now the bill goes to the House floor and, if approved, is sent back to the Senate for concurrence, meaning the Senate decides whether to agree to the House’s changes. 

Some legislators have stated that the purpose of SB 2765 is to be a backstop if the Mississippi Supreme Court overturns Initiative 65. If that’s true (and does happen), then the most appropriate bill for the legislature to adopt would be a replica of Initiative 65, not a legislative alternative that fundamentally changes the state’s medical marijuana program. The will of Mississippi voters is clear: for the state to have a medical marijuana program as created by Initiative 65. This is a good outcome for this bill, though it has a long way to go.

McLaughlin PC

McLaughlin PC

Read More

Medical Marijuana Developments in the South
Posted on: 03/10/2021
The Southern states have always been viewed as the holdouts for cannabis legalization, though the regional pressure is increasing with states like Arkansas, Louisiana, and Florida having medical marijuana programs.

Read More

The Current Status of SB 2765 at the Mississippi Legislature
Posted on: 03/03/2021
The future of Mississippi’s medical marijuana program has been somewhat hazy even after 74% of Mississippi voters approved Initiative 65 in November 2020.

Read More