Ford introduces medical marijuana bill
State Rep. Jill Ford plans to file a bill she said is a “legitimate medical marijuana bill.”
“This is probably more of my favorite legislation,” said Ford of Madison, who has already introduced several bills in the legislative session that began Jan. 4. “It is a true medical marijuana bill, not the reefer madness bill that we were given months ago to look at.”
Ford was referring to a state medical marijuana program created by Initiative 65 that voters passed with 58% of the overall vote in the 2020 general election, according to certified election results.
She also was referring to proposed legislation drafted over the summer and filed late Tuesday to create a state medical marijuana program after the state Supreme Court later struck down Initiative 65, siding with Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler. Hawkins-Butler had challenged the process by which the initiative was placed on the ballots.
Many opponents of Initiative 65 and the bill filed Tuesday, including Gov. Tate Reeves, raised concerns about the amount of marijuana allowed to be prescribed under the proposals. Opponents also said the proposed programs lacked significant regulation on growing and distributing marijuana. Some likened the proposals to recreational marijuana programs rather than medical marijuana programs.
“Sen. Angela Hill and myself have come up with a true, legitimate medical marijuana bill,” Ford said.
Significant points of Ford’s proposed bill co-authored with Hill that has not yet been filed include limiting the number of growers, processors and distributors and limiting distribution to 10 licensed specialty pharmacies throughout the state.
“Not one on every street corner,” Ford said of marijuana dispensaries. “No smoking it. If you’re terminal, you can get more, but you lose your driver’s license. Only a doctor can write a script for it, and the doctor and pharmacist must consult a prescription monitoring program for drug interactions. It is regulated by the department of health and board of pharmacy.”
The bill also would offer a limited number of growing opportunities, first offering growing rights to state universities and colleges.
“The MDOH shall limit the number of medical cannabis manufacturer licenses granted in the state to no more than four (4) licenses,” a draft of the bill states. “All state-funded public universities shall have the right of first refusal to be licensed as a manufacturer, either separately or jointly.”
If the state colleges and universities opt-out, Ford said, “then there are four licenses that can be had, and it’s an RFP (Request for Proposals), and they would have to be United States citizens.”
Ford said she hopes her colleagues will embrace her medical marijuana bill.
“I’ve been praying about this bill for so long that I would not doubt if it will grow wings and fly straight up to the top,” Ford said.