JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said Wednesday he is working with legislative leaders on details about how the state will pay for a proposed medical marijuana program.
The Republican governor said he will call lawmakers to the Capitol for a special session “sooner rather than later,” but he has not decided when.
House and Senate leaders want to enact a medical marijuana program to replace an initiative voters approved in November. State Supreme Court justices overturned the initiative in May when they ruled that Mississippi’s initiative process is outdated and unworkable.
Reeves said he has had productive talks this week with Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and House Speaker Philip Gunn, who are also Republicans.
“We are a long way towards getting to a final agreement, but we’re not all the way there yet,” Reeves said during a news conference.
Legislators’ next regular session begins in January. Hosemann and Gunn said last week that they want Reeves to set a special session soon because negotiators from the two chambers have agreed on a medical marijuana proposal, and they believe they’ve lined up enough votes to pass it.
But the leaders of the state Health Department and the state Agriculture Department both said this week that the proposal lacks a clear funding plan, leaving questions about how their agencies would pay for the licensing and regulatory roles.
The proposal would allow cities and counties to opt out of allowing the cultivation, processing or sale of medical marijuana, but it would also let local voters seek an election to reverse the decisions of those governing boards.
It also would set taxes, require that medical marijuana be grown only indoors and limit the amount of the drug that could be purchased each month by patients or their caregivers.
Hosemann and Gunn want a few other topics on a special session agenda. They want legislators to approve financial help for hospitals that are trying to keep enough nurses and other employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, authorize death benefit payments for law enforcement officers and first responders who die of COVID-19, and set aside money for shelters that help victims of child abuse and domestic violence.
Reeves on Wednesday did not say whether he will ask legislators to consider any topics other than medical marijuana during a special session.