JACKSON, Miss. (Feb 3, 2022) – Yesterday, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill into law legalizing medical marijuana despite ongoing federal cannabis prohibition.

Sen. Kevin Blackwell (R) and a bipartisan coalition of nine senators introduced Senate Bill 2095 (SB2095) on Jan. 11. The legislation will legalize medical marijuana and create a legal structure for the program. Under the law, patients with about two dozen specific medical conditions will qualify for medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. Regulators will have the power to add additional conditions. Under a compromise reached between the House and Senate, patients will be limited to 3 ounces of cannabis per month.

On Jan. 26, the House passed SB2095 by a 104-13 vote. The Senate approved the measure 46-4. With Gov. Reeve’s signature, the bill went into immediate effect. According to Marijuana Moment, dispensaries are set be licensed in about six months, meaning Mississippi’s medical cannabis program could be up and running, at least in limited form, by the end of the year.

Reeves signed SB2095 reluctantly. He has previously expressed opposition to legalizing cannabis for any reason and threatened to veto the bill if purchase limits weren’t lowered. His skepticism came through in a Facebook post.

“There is no doubt that there are individuals in our state who could do significantly better if they had access to medically prescribed doses of cannabis. There are also those who really want a recreational marijuana program that could lead to more people smoking and less people working, with all of the societal and family ills that that brings.”

Reeves went on to say, “I have made it clear that the bill on my desk is not the one that I would have written.”

This shows the power of public pressure. Mississippians clearly want medical marijuana.

Mississippi voters approved a measure to legalize medical marijuana n the 2020 general election, but the state Supreme Court overturned the referendum on a procedural technicality.

The governor isn’t the only high-profile official in Mississippi who has vocally opposed medical marijuana. Last year, Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson (R) said he doesn’t see how his office can participate in a marijuana program given cannabis remains illegal under federal law.


The federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains complete prohibition of marijuana. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate cannabis within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.

The legalization of medical marijuana in Mississippi would take the first step and remove another layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana in the state even though federal prohibition would remain in effect. This is significant because FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. When states stop enforcing marijuana laws, they sweep away most of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests

Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.


Mississippi joins a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition and nullifying it in practice.

Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska were the first states to legalize recreational cannabis, and California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts joined them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization passed in November 2016. Michigan followed suit when voters legalized cannabis for general use in 2018. Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana through a legislative act in 2018. Illinois followed suit in 2019. New Jersey, Montana and Arizona all legalized recreational marijuana through ballot measures in the 2020 election. Earlier this year, New YorkNew MexicoVirginia and Connecticut legalized marijuana through legislative action.

With 37 states including Mississippi allowing cannabis for medical use, and 18 legalizing for adult recreational use, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition anymore. The lesson here is pretty straightforward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats.

Mike Maharrey

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