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House votes for medicinal marijuana oil legislation

capitalMississippi lawmakers have voted to make the use of marijuana legal— kind of.

The Mississippi House of Representatives voted yesterday to make a medicinal marijuana oil legal in the state under tightly controlled circumstances.

The House voted 112-6 to pass the final version of House Bill 1231. The Senate still must approve the agreement before it goes to Gov. Phil Bryant for his consideration.

Thursday’s action was a significant development, though, because the House had previously rejected the proposal. The Senate already has agreed to a version of the language.

The oil is believed to help prevent seizures, and supporters say it doesn’t produce a high. A group of parents who have children with severe epilepsy are asking lawmakers to legalize the oil.

“I don’t want to get Mississippi 10-year-old children high,” said House Judiciary A Committee Chairman Mark Baker, R-Brandon, who supports the bill. “I want the seizures to stop.”

Only Mississippi-licensed physicians would be able to prescribe the oil, and it could be dispensed only at the pharmacy at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. UMMC would obtain its supply from Ole Miss’ National Center for Natural Products Research in Oxford. That center grows marijuana for medical research sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Baker said adults could take advantage of the medicine if the bill becomes law, although parents of epileptic children were the original impetus.

“We’ve got the protocol in place to make sure it’s narrowly prescribed and highly regulated,” said Baker, adding that the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics does not oppose the bill. “It is vetted as well as I can vet it.”

Sen. Josh Harkins, R-Flowood, has been pushing the bill. He said that if it becomes law, Ole Miss will have to seek federal approvals to move ahead, which could delay when the oil becomes available.

Among those who supported the bill was Rep. Mark Formby, R-Picayune, who said during debate that his son Eli had suffered three seizures already before noon yesterday.

 

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