Mississippi Senate Approves Alternate Medical Marijuana Program, Hours After Defeating It

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The measure faced bipartisan opposition, despite the numerous last-minute concessions to reduce its taxes on marijuana and to ensure it wouldn’t thwart the Initiative 65 medical marijuana program that voters passed into the state constitution in a landslide in November. By Geoff Pender, Mississippi Today After failing to gain the needed three-fifths vote in a first try Thursday night, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann (R) held the Senate over into Friday morning and it passed a legislative alternative to the medical marijuana program voters approved in November. Senate Bill 2765, authored by Senate Medicaid Chairman Kevin Blackwell (R), passed 30-19 on Friday morning at about 1:15 AM. The bill had failed a Thursday night vote, 30-21, needing 31 to pass. The lesser number for passage was needed in the wee hours Friday because some senators were absent, lowering the three-fifths threshold. Sens. Jennifer Branning (R) and Tammy Witherspoon, (D)—both of whom voted against the measure the first time—were absent for the second vote. Sen. Lydia Chassaniol (R), who voted for the bill the first time, was absent the second vote. Sen. Benjamin Suber (R) had been absent for the first vote but voted for the bill on the second vote. The measure now heads to the House, where it faces an uncertain future. Senators included a “reverse repealer” in the measure, meaning the House could not pass it on to the governor without more debate in the Senate. The measure would take effect only if the courts strike down the voter-passed Initiative 65 medical marijuana program, which is now in the state constitution but faces a challenge in the state Supreme Court. “Trigger language” was added to the Senate bill in an amendment on Thursday. Originally the measure, if passed, would have created its own program regardless of whether Initiative 65…

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