UPDATED: 1PM 4-25: Marijuana in Mississippi: Free Enterprise or Government Stores?

NEMiss.News Union County Supervisors Meeting 4-18-2022
C. J. Bright and board attorney Chandler Rogers at April 18 meeting.

 

UPDATED 1:00 pm 4-25-22:  Union County Board of Supervisors President C. J. Bright  has informed NEMiss.News that the hearing on medical marijuana tomorrow morning, Tuesday April 26, will be in the Chancery Court courtroom. Entry to the courtroom is on the west side of the Chancery Court building. 

 

The Union County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing tomorrow, Tuesday, April 26, at 8 a.m. to consider its approach to the sale of marijuana.

The exact place of the meeting was not determined when the county board set the hearing date. The hearing is likely to take place at the Union County Courthouse or at one of the other nearby county government buildings. Those interested could contact a county supervisor or the office of Chancery Clerk Annette Hickey (662-534-1900) to learn the exact place of the hearing.

There is no need to go into a lot of detail here about the long history of marijuana in Mississippi. It has been sold and used here since long before the first white settlers came over 300 years ago. For most of those three centuries the use of marijuana was legal in Mississippi. About 90 years ago most state legislatures in the U.S. had outlawed the sale of marijuana. The large distillers and brewers spent money persuading legislators around America to outlaw “the noxious weed.” Then in 1937, responding to lobbying by the same alcohol interests, the U.S. Congress made marijuana illegal everywhere. That was 85 years ago.

Two years ago a petition by Mississippi citizens put the issue on the ballot in a statewide election. The legislature and governor then muddied and complicated the matter by putting a convoluted marijuana law on the same ballot as an alternative to the citizen initiative. Mississippians voted overwhelmingly in favor of making marijuana legal in Mississippi. The state’s befuddled politicians wrung their hands and finally passed a measure a few months ago making “medical marijuana” legal in Mississippi. The state salons complicated the matter further by including a provision allowing local governments to “opt in” or “opt out” on allowing marijuana sales in their jurisdictions.

Whether Union County will “opt in” or “opt out” is the issue at tomorrow morning’s hearings.

The New Albany Board of Aldermen has already voted to “opt out.” However, every alderman said he intended to opt back in during the next several weeks after the city has passed local ordinances about in what parts of town marijuana stores or dispensaries will be allowed to operate, etc. In effect, they want to do some zoning.

If the aldermen do as they say they will do, marijuana should be legally available in New Albany by sometime this summer.

What the county board does would only apply outside the city limits.

Thus, after many centuries during which marijuana has been sold in private enterprise by Mississippi entrepreneurs, local and state government will try to capture part of the market and tax it.

NEMiss.News Sheriff J B Kline, Galveston TX

Sheriff J. B. Kline

This is not to argue for or against marijuana. My personal experience with it was smoking it a few times about 50 years ago. I didn’t care for it. My “drug of choice” then and now, is alcohol.

As I wrote this, I thought of an interview I did 44 years ago in 1978. I was then a much younger reporter, and I interviewed J. B. Kline, the Sheriff of Galveston County Texas. Sheriff Kline was born in 1914 in Gunsight, Texas, a tiny town in Stephens County, about 25 miles west of Fort Worth.

J. B. Kline was the real deal. He’d served in World War II, had been a cop in Dallas and served for 20 years as Galveston County’s elected Sheriff. Yes, he wore a western hat and cowboy boots and packed a six-shooter revolver, with which he had sent several bad guys to the grave. (And, yes, he honest-to-God was born in Gunsight, Texas. Other real Texas towns include Cut and Shoot, Gun Barrel City, Point Blank and Winchester.)

A very likable fellow, but not one to be trifled with, J. B. Kline was a legend in Texas law enforcement. He was 64 years old when I interviewed him and asked my first standard question: “Sheriff, what problem in Galveston County causes the most trouble?”

“Marijuana,” J.B. shot back.

“How do you mean,” I asked.

“What I mean is that marijuana has been illegal in Texas for a number of years now. My deputies waste valuable time arresting people for selling and using pot, and we don’t have enough time for catching real criminals. Red Neck men beat their wives and children across the bay in Texas City. Merchant seamen from ships anchored at Galveston Wharves, fight and stab one another. Punks break into home and stores and steal stuff from folks.

NEMiss.News Gunsight Texas historical sign

Historical sign in Gunsight, Texas.

“But instead of putting in more of our time fighting crimes where people get hurt, my guys are running up and down Seawall Boulevard arresting kids with a little bag of weed. If we don’t do it, the preachers and do-gooders come out and try to beat me in the election.”

Sheriff Kline paused to light a cigarette.

“I’ll tell you something,” he said. “When I was a kid, anybody could walk into any drug store in Fort Worth and buy a little bale of marijuana about an inch square for twenty-five cents!”

J. B. Kline died on July 9, 1984, a couple of months short of his 70th birthday. He was a Christian and a Freemason and a straight shooter.

— JWS

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