Agriculture commissioner bashes medical marijuana bill, says he won’t participate – The Commercial Dispatch


Andy Gipson

State Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson said regulationmakers Aren’t Adjust toing The will of voters with a medical marijuana proposal and reiterated his vow that his agency Will not Take part in regulating it.

“Who’s going To function this expansive program?” Gipson, a former longtime state legislator, said at a press convention on Monday. “Who’s going to pay for it? How a lot is it going to value? Standing right here right now, I don’t assume anyone can reply these questions … The Mississippi Legislature Isn’torious for moveing huge authorities packages and growing paperwork with out offering any Method to pay for it.”

“This agency Isn’t designed nor outfitted, Neither Is that this agency niceded for such an expansive and costly program as this proposes,” Gipson said. “… That might not what people voted for … That might not what people elected me to do, be a marijuana kingpin.”

Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and House Speaker Philip Gunn final week introduced that legislative negotiators had reached settlement on a draft invoice to create a medical marijuana program To commerce the Initiative 65 program handed by voters final yr however shot down by the state Supreme Courtroom. Hosemann and Gunn have requested Gov. Tate Reeves to name regulationmakers into particular session on Friday for the Legislature to move the measure.

The proposal names for This technique to be regulated by the Mississippi State Division of Well being, the Division of Agriculture and the Division of Income. Initiative 65, briefly enshrined Inside the state structure by voters earlier than being struck down by the extreme court on a structureal technicality, would have had MSDH solely In cost of regulating This technique.

But Gipson, who said he had no enter Inside the invoice and solely noticed the draft on Friday, has said for weeks that he Does not Want to handle rising, processing or transportation of marijuana As a Outcome of the invoice provides. He initially said marijuana stays federally illegal, so he Can be violating his oath of office to uphold U.S. regulations if he participated. On Monday he listed pretty A pair of completely different factors he has with the proposal, although he said he think abouts the state will finally be a part of Greater than two dozen completely differents in having a medical marijuana program.

For starters, Gipson said, the legislative proposal doesn’t Adjust to the letter or spirit of Initiative 65.

Gipson said he estimates It May value his agency $2.9 million a yr To oversee cultivation and processing of medical marijuana, and he doesn’t but have an estimate how a lot It May value To handle transportation and disposal the draft invoice duties his agency with. He famous regulationmakers trequested his office with overseeing hemp rising two yrs in the past, however have twice denied his request for $500,000 in further niceding for it and have “not appropriated one copper penny for the Hemp Cultivation Act.”

“That $2.9 million Can be a 41% enhance Inside the price range of this little agency,” Gipson said.

Gipson said the Well being Division ought to deal with all regulation of This technique, as Initiative 65 outlined. He said Simply one completely different state, Florida, has its agriculture department regulating it. He said having one agency, the Well being Division, regulating marijuana Would supply “effectivity” And fewer enlargement Of presidency and paperwork.

Gipson said Initiative 65 would have been self-niceded, “by the enterprise” by way of costs, however that regulationmakers At the second are planning to tax it and All of the money “is sucked up and going into the state widespread niced” with no clear plan from regulationmakers on The biggest Method to niced This technique.

“This proposal Isn’t what people voted for,” Gipson said.

Gipson said the invoice would have his agency offering oversight within 60 days of its moveage and that timeframe “is unworkable.” He famous that Alabama’s newly created medical marijuana program provides enterprisees 18 months To face up a program.

Neither Gunn’s nor Hosemann’s offices immediately responded to a request for Contact upon Gipson’s press convention on Monday. But legislative negotiators have famous thOn they provided Gipson with an out Inside the proposal. It would permit Gipson’s agency to contract out its oversight Inside the legal guidelines To A particular agency or private contractor.

Gipson, who had earlier thanhand said he might sue if regulationmakers tried to strain his agency To handle medical marijuana, said, “If this movees the method it reads now, we Should think about farming it out.”

“But As quickly as they put that Inside the invoice, why not let the Division of Well being farm it out, too?” Gipson said, saying that having three enterprisees involved is a recipe for ineffectivity, purple tape and extreme prices. He said He is furtherly involved the legal guidelines “has no exact position for regulation enstrainment” Similar to a Outcome of the Division of Public Safety or Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.

Gipson said he’s prepared to work with regulationmakers on drafting A greater program and think abouts “On The prime of the day This will be fixed very merely with modest modifications, and make it look extra like Initiative 65.”

Reeves, who has sole authority to name particular legislative durations and set the agenda, has not said when, or if, he would name regulationmakers again to Jackson to Deal with the proposal, however he had said he would name a medical marijuana session if regulationmakers have been in settlement on a program.

Hosemann and Gunn final week said they think about They’ve the votes to move the proposal.


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