Letter to the Editor

Unfortunately, the absolute absurdity continues in Mississippi.  

Despite repeated promises to call a special session once the two chambers reached consensus on a bill, Governor Reeves has failed to do so. 

It was announced on September 24th that the House and the Senate had agreed on a bill; almost eight weeks have now passed and we are no closer to a special session now than we were on September 23rd and this is 100% on Governor Reeves.  Mr. Reeves has changed his stance and now he has dug his heels in as he refuses to call a special session unless the amount of cannabis a patient can purchase is reduced.  Lets not forget that the people of Mississippi; the voters, the taxpayers, the fire fighters, the police officers, the nurses, the teachers, the clerks, the sanitation workers and everyone in between voted overwhelmingly to approve Initiative 65 over a year ago. 

In Initiative 65 (which should already be operational) patients were allowed to receive up to 5oz of cannabis per month. These everyday people of Mississippi who voted for Initiative 65 are the same people who elected Governor Reeves along with every member of the Legislature.  These regular ole Mississippians will remember the actions, or inaction as it were of the Governor and members of the Legislature during the next election. 

Sadly, many lawmakers believe that us regular folk simply aren’t smart enough to understand what is being done and I’m sure they’re all hoping we’ll quickly forget just how ludicrous this entire ordeal has been.  Trust me, we’re all watching and no one will forget.

So now to address our flip flopping Governor, who is oh so obviously riddled with his own personal beliefs which have paralyzed him.  According to Rep. Lee Yancy, there is a disparity of 0.7 grams of cannabis flower which a patient can receive.  The Legislature has agreed that 3.5 grams (1/8th of an oz) will be equal to 1 “Mississippi Medical Cannabis Equivalency Unit” MMCEU. 

Governor Reeves thinks it should be reduced to 2.8 grams.  Mr. Yancy makes several valid points, not the least of which is the fact that 3.5 grams is an industry standard.  For further context, the Legislature has agreed to allow 32 MMCEU’s per patient per month.  This means that according to the Legislature, patients will be allowed 4oz of medical cannabis per month; the amount specified by Governor Reeves brings that down to 3.2oz.  

Now, I have a hard time believing that there will be very many patients who access the full amount of cannabis allowed by law, whatever that turns out to be.  For one thing, most people are not going to “smoke 11 joints a day” like Mr. Reeves previously touted. 

Many prospective patients have lives to live and responsibilities to attend to; they simply need another tool to help them to find balance in their lives; yet there are those who are terminally ill and completely desperate for relief in any form.  Another obvious reason why most patients will not use 4oz of cannabis a month is cost.  Insurance does not cover medical marijuana.  One oz of medical cannabis costs roughly $300 +/-xx depending on quality, strain, etc.  Then we have to add in sales tax and excise tax (which was NOT a part of Initiative 65).  So now we’re pushing $350 per oz of medical marijuana.  Simple math… $350 x 4oz = $1,400. 

How many Mississippians who are desperately waiting on safe access to medical cannabis can afford $1,400 per month for their medicine?  Very few if any.

So, instead of continuing the standoff, why not just give the Governor what he wants?  The people are waiting while they continue to suffer after all.  Now, reducing a Mississippi Medical Cannabis Equivalency Unit (MMCEU) from 3.5 grams to 2.8 grams is nonsensical and would create vast unseen problems.  However, changing the actual number of MMCEU’s which are allowed is much more reasonable.  How does that saying go? 

Common sense has become far too uncommon…  Come on people, have we really become so bloated with BS that we cannot see what is right in front of us?  Just reduce the number of MMCEU’s allowed to something like 24 rather than 32.  This would equal 3oz instead of 4.  The people will get their medicine and that amount will likely be plenty for most patients.  

Now, I’ve heard so much talk but no details about Mr. Reeves wanting to impose further THC limits as well.  Let's not continue to press our luck Mr. Reeves.  Please give up some control and give the people some semblance of what they already voted on and overwhelmingly approved.  We have to remember that Governor Reeves is merely 1 man; the House and Senate are composed of several dozen men and women. 

The general public who elect these few are themselves many hundreds of thousands.  If Mr. Reeves continues down the unreasonable path which he has begun, then this issue will be back in the hands of the Legislature at the regular session.  So, if Mr. Reeves does continue to “move the goalposts” as it were then he will leave the Legislature no choice but to pass this bill in the regular session in January, and override his veto if Mr. Reeves decides to continue to ride this wave of denial until it crashes down upon him.  Sadly, I believe this is what it will end up coming down to. 

I don’t think Governor Reeves ever actually intended to call a special session at all.  I believe that he was simply telling the people what he thought they wanted to hear while at the same time secretly betting that the Legislature would fail to reach consensus on a bill.  You see this way Mr. Reeves would come out smelling like roses and the Legislature would be to blame.  Well that backfired didn’t it, Mr. Reeves? 

While I have no doubt that there are members of the Legislature who are so stuck in their ways that they would literally rather die than vote yes for medical marijuana, I also believe that by far the vast majority of the Legislature have come to the realization that if they wish to retain their position of power then they must honor the will of the people.  

The people who are pushing for our voices to be heard and for medical marijuana to be implemented are not the type of people who are striving to create some sub-black market scheme based around medical cannabis.  I believe some of those in power have this vision in their minds of the black market for cannabis expanding due to medical marijuana being a reality.  This is simply not the case.  What will actually happen is that the black market will shrink significantly. 

Valuable law enforcement resources will be able to be diverted and reallocated to more serious crimes which are truly detrimental to our society and community such as domestic abuse and other violent crimes.  The people who are pushing for this want to be allowed safe and legal access to a natural plant that makes them feel better in one way or another when ingested, without fear of jail and losing everything they’ve worked their entire lives for.  Nothing more, nothing less.         

Please remember, the people who voted for Initiative 65 are watching and waiting; WE WILL NOT FORGET.  If this medical marijuana program does not become a reality then reckoning day will be at the next election.  Surely there is a shred of compassion and decency left in our Governor and our lawmakers that is not overshadowed by personal beliefs and special interests.  Despite the fact that the next gubernatorial election is 2 years from now, Mr. Reeves is undoubtedly losing votes with each and every day that passes that he fails to call a special session.  Another point to ponder, when Tate Reeves was elected Governor in November of 2019, his margin of victory was much narrower than the margin that Initiative 65 was approved by in November of 2020; therefore, many more people voted for Initiative 65 than they did for Mr. Reeves...

The many will always outweigh the few.

Regards,

Johnny Vaughn

Laurel, MS

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