Supervisors vote to 'opt out' of medical marijuana

The Pearl River County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing last night (Monday) to allow residents a chance to express their thoughts on whether the county should opt in or opt out to allow the cultivation and retail distribution of marijuana for medical use in the county.

The overall sentiment of those present in the packed courtroom, whether for opting in or opting out, is that those people who need medical marijuana should and will still be able to get it. Many of those present stated the ballot that was voted on in November, 2020, did not discuss cultivation nor distribution; it was the bill passed by the Mississippi legislature that added those stipulations. Many of those present who are in favor of opting in told the Supervisors they should honor the vote of the people from November 3, 2020

On May 14, 2021, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that the initiative 65/65A vote in November 2020 was invalid because it did not comply with the signature distribution requirements in the Mississippi Constitution. In lieu of that action, the Mississippi legislature crafted a bill that has language pertaining to cultivation (growing) and distribution.

After nearly one and forty-five minutes of approximately 45 residents speaking for up to two minutes and thirty seconds each, the board gave a quick review of where they stood on the issue.

District 4 Supervisor Jason Spence said he believes a lot of people voted for medical marijuana, but did not vote for grow houses and distribution.

District 2 Supervisor Malcolm Perry echoed Spence’s comments. Perry read language from the November 2020 ballot and stated that the language on the ballot does not address growing or distribution. District 3 Supervisor Hudson Holliday said he would honor the vote by the people. He also stated that he feels that Pearl River County should not continue to penalize those businesses that want to be involved in the medical marijuana program.

District 1 Supervisor Donald Hart said he was concerned about what allowing distribution outlets may lead to in the future. Hart referenced a photo he took while in Florida last week that showed a dispensary displaying a sign that stated “Free Joint Friday”. He said below that caption it provided a phone number to call to get a medical card.

District 5 Supervisor Sandy Kane Smith said that he did not want to have to count on the Mississippi Dept of Health to regulate the medical marijuana program due to the agency’s inability to properly manage and regulate sewer systems.

The board made a motion to opt out of all options of growing, cultivation, processing, and distribution of medical marijuana. The board voted 4 to 1 to opt out of all with Supervisor Holliday voting no.

@WRJW