Board of Supervisors to hold public hearing on Medical Marijuana
In what turned in to a lengthy meeting of the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors, state representatives and members of the public came forward to voice their opinions on the Medical Marijuana Act on Wednesday in Poplarville.
While no vote would be made on the matter of opting in or opting out, State Senator Angela Hill approached the board and gave an impassioned plea for the county to opt out. Hill told the board of her displeasure of how the bill was worded, and went on to say that allowing it to pass here in the county would do much more harm than good. Senator Hill even stated that she had written her own marijuana bill with stipulations limiting loopholes and other gains that would only benefit the ones profiting from the production and sale of marijuana. Her bill was rejected at the state level.
State Representative Stacy Wilkes echoed Senator Hill’s plea and asked the Board to opt out due to the language of the bill being vague and allowing all the power to control the marijuana industry in the hands of the state, and giving the municipalities and counties very little say in how the industry will operate.
Sheriff David Allison went as far as asking the board to preemptively approve his department additional budget, equipment, and personnel to combat what he fears will be needed to combat increased criminal activity and to patrol the areas that will grow and house the marijuana. Sheriff Allison asked for the additions after speaking with other law enforcement on how they were dealing with their areas opting in.
The board later tabled these requests until after the official vote. Sheriff Allison went on to say that Pearl River County has one of the highest overdose rates in the state, and allowing access to another drug will in no way benefit the county. He asked the county to vote against allowing medical marijuana.
Members of the community repeatedly stated that if someone was legally allowed to receive medical marijuana, they could simply travel to Hattiesburg or Gulfport, who have opted in, and get their prescription filled without putting Pearl River County at risk from having the marijuana industry here.
Board Member Malcolm Perry said he understands how the opt out group feels, but he was elected to speak as the voice for the majority. Perry stated that he has received many calls from citizens asking for an opt in vote.
Board Member Hudson Holliday said that the law was passed at the State level by a large majority of the vote, and while he may not be in favor of allowing it here, it's coming one way or another.
Board President Sandy Kane Smith passed the gavel to Mr. Perry, Board Vice President, in order for Mr. Smith to make a motion to hold a public hearing. The President cannot make a motion, thus the action taken by Smith was a procedural requirement. His motion failed for lack of a valid second, however, the board later passed a motion to hold a public hearing on Monday, May 2nd at 6:00 p.m. in Poplarville.
The official vote will come after the public hearing is The deadline to opt in or out is May 3rd.
The City of Picayune voted to opt out on Tuesday, April 19th. The City of Poplarville will hold its public hearing April 26th at 5:00 p.m.