Medical cannabis advocates head for MS state capital to demand special session

The group We are the 74 will set up shop outside the Governor’s mansion
Published: Oct. 17, 2021 at 10:21 PM CDT
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BYHALIA, Miss. (WMC) - Mississippians prepare to protest in front of the governor’s mansion in Jackson, demanding Governor Tate Reeves to call a special session for the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act.

Reeves told lawmakers that if both sides, Republican and Democrat, were able to come to a consensus and draft a bill for a medical cannabis program, he would call a special session.

It’s been three weeks since a consensus was reached and a bill submitted, and Reeves has yet to call a special session, prompting this upcoming protest.

“I hope he’s ready for karaoke because we’ve got loudspeakers; we’ve got tents. We’re going to be there until we get our session,” said Zack Wilson, Vice President of We are the 74.

After working with his local legislators and protesting in town squares, Zack Wilson is done waiting.

Wilson’s group We are the 74, representing the 74% of Mississippians who voted for a medical cannabis initiative in the November 2020 elections that was later overturned in State Supreme Court, is heading for Jackson on Monday afternoon.

For Wilson, medical cannabis is a very personal topic.

His story of advocating for the drug began in 2014 when his wife was diagnosed with a stage four glioblastoma, a brain tumor, and given only three months to live.

Wilson went to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Chicago, where he was introduced to cannabis oil.

“I treated her for two years, and she had a decent quality of life,” Wilson said. “I spent every dollar I had, and when I finally couldn’t afford it anymore, three weeks later the tumor exploded with growth and she was gone.”

Gov. Reeves has made additions to the bill that’s been proposed, like THC caps (a 30% cap on the flower and 60% cap on concentrates), revoking home growing, and sales and excise taxes on the drug.

“It’s going to add somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,700 a year in taxes for patients, $2,700 per patient,” Wilson reiterated. “Insurance doesn’t cover this medication. You want to tax us to be able to buy it, but you’re not going to allow us to grow it at home? We’re the poorest state in country. What sense does that make?”

Lawmakers in North Mississippi like Representative John Faulkner posted on social media saying “SMH, Mr. Gov. Let’s get this done. The people have spoken.”

Smh , Mr Gov. Let’s get this done. The people have spoken !!!

Posted by John Faulkner on Friday, October 15, 2021

Wilson says with citizens and lawmakers mostly on the same page with this bill, Governor Reeves has no choice but to call a special session and perform the will of voters.

“If it would’ve been (Reeves’s) wife that he had to deal with with what I dealt with, I guarantee you he would be looking at it very differently,” Wilson said.

Governor Reeves has recently stated he thinks getting it done right is more important than getting it done quick.

Wilson counters with there are 39 other states with some other form of medicinal and/or recreational cannabis program and there’s plenty to base a program off of.

“We have brought people in from other states and educated our legislators. Our legislators want this session more than anything,” Wilson said.

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