• Emily Drayton, Staff Writer

Mississippi Governor Micromanages Medicinal Cannabis, Patients Suffer

We'll hold our noses while we visit Mississippi, where Governor Tate Reeves is still dangling the possibility of a special session of the state legislature to move forward with legalization of medical cannabis.

Voters approved medical cannabis last fall, legislators have been making a mess ever since.


From the ABC affiliate in Mississippi, W-T-O-K: HOPE FADES FOR SPECIAL SESSION ON MISSISSIPPI MEDICAL CANNABIS PROGRAM


News about this special legislative session feels like a teenager learning to drive grandpa’s old Volkswagen with manual transmission. It goes forward an inch, then stalls. He starts it again, revs up the engine… and it stalls again. This has been going on for months.


Why does it matter that they do this in "special session"?


"A special session could grant the bill its own stage, whereas regular session would mean it falls in the mix with the rest of the agenda .... [that] could mean several more months before the bill passed, [or] legislators could attach new … provisions … which could result in … the death of the bill."


What’s the hold-up?


"Really, the one key piece left is with respect to how much marijuana can any-one-individual get at any one point in time,” said Governor Reeves said during a press conference this past week.


The max that the Governor wants medical professionals to be able to prescribe at one time is 2.8 grams. Essentially, he wants cannabis sold in 10ths of an ounce instead of the traditional eighths which is about 3.5 grams.


Our Opinion: Doses of medicine should NOT be prescribed by legislators, but by professionals or doctors who are trained in cannabis medicine and the endocannabinoid system. To illustrate this ludicrous issue, Zach Wilson, vice president of We Are the 74, a pro-medical cannabis group in the state, pulls a $10 bill from his wallet. “Any paper currency in America weighs a gram. Say I cut a third of that dollar bill off … That’s what these people are hung up on.”


So while this grinding peacockery gives the Governor extra rounds in front of microphones, what does it mean for patients?


Here’s a story from the Mississippi Free Press:


"Christine Loftin watched patiently as the governor made his way around the 10th Inning Bar and Grill… shaking hands and posing for photos... But despite greeting the rest of the room, the governor bypassed the table where she sat with her 16-year-old son, Bryan, who was in a wheelchair."


Though the governor once dismissed supporters of a robust medical-marijuana law as "stoners," to the Loftins, it is a matter of life-or-death. Bryan has a form of epilepsy that has resisted treatment by over a dozen pharma drugs. Doctors believe cannabis could provide relief, but legalization is held up over this stupid debate over tenths of a gram. The family doesn’t have the money to leave the state.


Bryan rolled up to the Governor and handed him a photograph of himself after he’d had a seizure and fallen, hitting his head. His mother asked for the governor’s help in getting the bill approved so her son could get medicine legally.


The boy seemed to grab the governor’s jacket, and his mother said, “My son is having a seizure right now.”


" 'Thank you,' Reeves said, nodding as he averted his gaze from the photo, which showed the boy’s face battered with one swollen, black eye."


THE LOOP BACK

So while the Governor is dodging a voter-approved medical cannabis program over tenths of a gram, people like Bryan Loftin and his family are suffering in real time.

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