August 5, 2022

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BOBBY HARRISON: Senate had lots of recesses for medical marijuana | Columnists

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The frequency with which Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann deepening the Mississippi Senate in recent days would make elementary school-aged students green with envy.

It seems that many of these niches were linked to medical marijuana – time it took to develop a strategy on how to pass a medical marijuana proposal from the Senate chaired by Hosemann.

No topic took up more time in this sessionCounting the recesses, than medical marijuana.

At the beginning of this month on an important deadline, with several outstanding bills that would die if not takenThe Senate spent hours on hiatus, presumably devising a plan for the passage of a medical marijuana law. They eventually did, even though the Senate stayed in session until after 1 a.m. to finish its work.

On the surface, the issue doesn’t seem that controversial. Hosemann said his only intention was to pass laws “as a backlash” in case the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled later that year that the signature-gathering process included an initiative to legalize the use of medical marijuana on the ballot to set is unconstitutional. The voters voted overwhelmingly in favor of this initiative.

“My Senate could damn well have said that, but they take care of medical marijuana and the people who voted for it,” said Hosemann, explaining the Senate’s preoccupation with the issue. “What if they (Supreme Court Justice) declare this unconstitutional? We won’t be back until next year. What happens to all the people that the proponents said they really need to have … We’re trying to make sure the issue they voted on is in place immediately. “

However, some proponents of this initiative fear that Hosemann and others are trying to send the signal to the Supreme Court that it is okay to abandon the initiative because they have “hit a blow” so that voters won’t be upset if the initiative is taken found to be unconstitutional. There is no doubt that many lawmakers oppose the medical marijuana initiative because it prevents medical marijuana from being taxed to aid education and other aspects of state government, and severely restricts regulation of the drug.

Warning: The following goes deep into the weeds … of the legislative process.

Last week, the Senate’s efforts to get medical marijuana passed accelerated after the House killed the bill that Hosemann kept the Senate in session until after midnight in order to pass this session earlier.

In order not to be deterred, the Senate found another bill – a House of Representatives proposal called “Harper Grace’s Law,” which deals with research into cannabidiol, or CBD oil – to add the language that legalizes medical marijuana. The decision to include the medical marijuana change in the cannabidiol bill was, of course, made after several omissions.

Despite these niches, the bill would have been rejected without Senator Jeremy England, R-Vancleave, who said he was against the medical marijuana bill but ultimately chose not to vote but to “pair” with a Senator, who presumably supported the bill was absent due to a family illness. England was demonstrably against the bill, but its vote didn’t count. If his vote had counted, the bill would have been rejected with one vote.

But the Senate leadership made a strategic mistake during the break. The bill had “a reverse repealer,” meaning it would be repealed before it ever went into effect. In this case, the bill was repealed on January 1, 2021.

Reverse repeaters are often added to ensure the bills go to the conference committee, where further negotiations between the Senate and House leaders take place. If so, a conference committee would most likely guarantee the death of medical marijuana during the 2021 session.

The language added to Harper Grace’s Senate bill is unlikely to remain in the bill if it had gone to conference, according to numerous legislative sources. However, the complex legal regulations would not prohibit the House from simply joining the Senate amendments and sending the bill to the governor.

The problem, however, was that the Senate-approved bill could not be sent to the governor because it would be repealed before it even reached his desk. After more time in the break, the senate leaders collected the votes go back into the bill and Remove the reverse repealer and run it again with a narrow edge.

The second time around, two senators, England and Senator Chad McMahan, R-Guntown, who both opposed the medical marijuana legalization bill, did not vote but met with absent senators who supported the bill. Had either England or McMahan actually voted, the bill would have been rejected.

The question now is whether the House will approve the work of the Senate to pass a proposal to legalize medical marijuana. If not, Hosemann and the senators wasted a lot of time during the break.

BOBBY HARRISON is Mississippi Today’s Senior Capitol Reporter and was a longtime Capitol Reporter for the Daily Journal. Readers can contact him at (601) 946-9931 or bharrison@mississippitoday.org.

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