Ag Commissioner Andy Gipson pushes back on proposed medical marijuana legislation

Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 6:59 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Lawmakers are waiting to learn whether the Governor will call them back for a special session to put a medical marijuana program in place.

Meanwhile, one elected official says he doesn’t want his agency involved.

“This is not what the people wanted,” said Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson. “It’s not what my oath of office requires, and it’s not what the people of Mississippi elected me to do: To be the marijuana kingpin of the state of Mississippi.”

In the bill drawn up by lawmakers, the Ag Department would be the agency doing licensing and regulating medical marijuana.

Commissioner Andy Gipson thinks it should all be done by the Health Department since it’s medical. But that’s not all he’s worried about.

“Number one, who is going to operate this expansive program?” he asked. “Number two, who is going to pay for it? And number three, and importantly, we all need to know, how much is it going to cost?”

We asked Rep. Chris Bell what he thinks of Gipson’s concerns.

“It’s clearly stated on their website that their business is that they are about the business of promoting agricultural related businesses and products from in the state of Mississippi throughout the world,” noted Bell. “He has an opportunity to provide what the citizens of the state of Mississippi voted for. So if he decides not to be a part of this legislation, then he’s totally turned his back on his obligation.”

“I have every reason to believe that Commissioner Gibson will perform his duties in spite of his own personal feelings,” said Sen. Chad McMahan.

McMahan is supportive of a special session and, although he has some questions, is prepared to support the drafted version for the program. But he does raise a similar question to Gipson:

“One thing I am concerned about in the legislation. I didn’t see any funding for the three agencies that are going to be administering that. We need to be sure that we’re giving these agencies the tools and the funds they need to administer this medical marijuana program.”

The Governor’s office said there wouldn’t be an announcement Monday regarding a special session. We’ll keep you posted if and when one is called.

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