JACINTO • Under the hot sun and stories history of a local political tradition, some mostly Alcorn County lawmakers were not enthusiastic about tackling medical marijuana in a special session.
At the annual Jacinto July 4th Celebration event, held on Saturday, a handful of local legislators told the Daily Journal they prefer addressing medical cannabis and the voter referendum process during next year’s regular legislative session.
State Rep. Nick Bain, R-Corinth, said he is not outright opposed to going special into session to address marijuana and the initiative process, but believes lawmakers should probably just wait to address both issues beginning next year, instead of this summer.
“If we don’t have a special session to address these issues — the initiative process and medical marijuana — I think those need to be the first things we address when we go back to our regular session,” Bain said.
Bain said he did not have any specific measures that he would specifically like to see in a program because he has not been active in drafting any legislation on the issue.
Typically, the Legislature is in session at the Capitol in Jackson from January to April. But the governor can call a special session at any time to address a particular topic.
After the Mississippi Supreme Court struck down the state’s initiative process over technicalities and ruled that the state’s medical marijuana program was improperly placed on the ballot, advocates of medical marijuana have urged the governor to call a special session.
State Sen. Rita Potts Parks, R-Corinth, echoed many of Bain’s sentiments. Parks said she wants to see the state get a medical marijuana program “right” instead of rushing a program.
Despite her reticence to go back to a special session, Parks, who is a member of the Senate Public Health Committee, said the issue needs to be addressed.
“A large percentage of people in the state voted for medical marijuana,” Parks said. “We do need to deal with this.”
Parks said she would like to see limited places in the state where marijuana could be purchased and allow local governments some zoning control over marijuana dispensaries in their communities.
State Rep. Lester “Bubba Carpenter,” R-Burnsville, was more frank in his view of such a session. Carpenter said even though there’s a lot of energy and anticipation around the issue, he believes the Legislature should take its time and evaluate medical marijuana programs other states have implemented.
“We really need to study this thing,” Carpenter said. “We don’t need to invent the wheel. We need to tailor ours to our needs, and we need to get it right.”
Since the state’s highest court struck the marijuana program down, the Senate Public Health Committee has conducted two hearings to try and determine what type of marijuana program the state should have and what regulations should be in place.
Republican Gov. Tate Reeves has previously said that he is in favor of calling lawmakers back into session to address medical marijuana, but only if lawmakers can agree on the program’s specifics beforehand.