After failing to acquire the required three-fifths threshold vote during the first attempt on Thursday night, Lieutenant Governor Hosemann Delbert motivated the Senate to approve an alternative medical cannabis program voters that were ascended during late 2020.
2765 Senate Bill, written by Kevin Blackwell Senate Medicaid Chairman passed on Friday morning with 30-19 vote. Despite failing the Thursday night 30-21 vote, the bill was passed early Friday thanks to the absent senators that lowered the three-fifths limit.
Senator Jennifer Branning and Witherspoon Tammy had both opposed the bill during the first hearing and were absent during the second vote. Senator Lydia Chassaniol who supported the bill initially was also missing during the second vote. Senator Suber Benjamin was absent during the first vote but supported the reform during the second vote.
The initiative now awaits the House’s consideration. Senators incorporated a ‘counter repealer’ in the program; thus, the House can’t forward to the governor’s office without a Senate debate.
The program will only be implemented if the court dissolves the voter-approved Initiative 65 medicinal cannabis program. Although Initiative 65 is featured in Mississippi’s constitution, it faces a hiccup in the federal Supreme Court. On Thursday, the ‘trigger language’ was incorporated into the Senate Reform after an amendment. Initially, if approved, the measure would have set up its system irrespective of whether Initiative 65 existed or not.
The reform would tax medical cannabis at a 4% excise duty during cultivation and patients would have to incur the sales tax. In a move to garner more support, the initial 10% sales tax was reduced to 7% during Thursday night. Most of the accumulated taxes would be allocated for education programs, including college and early learning scholarships.
The reform would also attach hefty licensing charges on farmers and dispensary store proprietors. The initial fees were USD100, 000 for farmers and $20,000 for marijuana dispensaries. These fees were reduced on Thursday night to $10,000 and $5,000 respectively.