Mother ‘appalled’ lawmakers drag Harper Grace’s bill into medical marijuana fight

Mother ‘appalled’ lawmakers drag Harper Grace’s bill into medical marijuana fight

Ashley Durval, mother of Harper Grace Durval, says it’s “truly sick” that the state Senate is using her daughter’s namesake bill to “undermine” the medical marijuana program Ashley helped get voters to put into the state Constitution.

In 2014, the Mississippi Legislature passed “Harper Grace’s Law,” named after the then 2-year-old girl who suffered a rare form of epilepsy. The measure allowed physicians at the University of Mississippi Medical Center to conduct clinical research on the medical use of cannabidiol, or CBD, and related compounds. But ironically, because of state regulations, Harper Grace was not allowed to use the medicine produced for the clinical trial named after her.

Ashley Durval filed the original paperwork that resulted in Initiative 65 — to create a medical marijuana program and enshrine it in the state Constitution — being placed on the ballot last year. Voters in November 2020 overwhelmingly approved it, although it is now being challenged in the state Supreme Court.

Mississippi lawmakers, who for years balked at creating a state medical marijuana program even as a public groundswell for it grew, have this session been trying to pass an alternative program to Initiative 65. Proponents say it would only be a backstop if the high court strikes down Initiative 65. But many supporters of the initiative suspect it’s a power and tax revenue grab by the Legislature and have opposed it.

On Wednesday, the state House killed the much-debated Senate Bill 2765. But the Senate on Wednesday evening revived the dead legislation, by inserting it as an amendment into the Harper Grace’s Law bill, which is up for reauthorization this year.

“As the mother of Harper Grace Durval, I am appalled that the Legislature would use my daughter’s own bill to undermine Initiative 65,” Durval said in a statement. “Initiative 65 is the only medical marijuana program that will ever benefit my daughter, and the Legislature is trying to kill it using my daughter’s own bill. That is truly sick.”

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