Updated on November 19, 2021. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Patients in Mississippi have been waiting a long time to get access to doctor-supervised cannabis. After the November 2020 ballot initiative, voters overwhelmingly supported the legalization of medical marijuana. There is a legislative battle against the will of voters. But to date, medical cannabis is not legal in Mississippi.
Patients celebrated the successful vote to legalize medical cannabis on November 3, 2020 election. Over half of the 1.3 million registered voters in Mississippi approved a new medical marijuana program. Approximately 766,000 voters supported Initiative 65. However, on May 14, 2021, the Supreme Court handed down a decision. While Initiative 65 was voter-approved, the Court blocked legalization. It was invalidated when three of the five Supreme Court Judges in Mississippi voted against the legalization of medical marijuana.
The rejection of Initiative 65 was started on October 26, 2020, when the City of Madison, Mississippi, filed a lawsuit. Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler cited that the Secretary of State had unlawfully certified the Initiative as a ballot measure. Mayor Hawkins-Butler successfully argued her case against Initiative 65. The measure (and legalization of medical cannabis) is being held pending arguments and motions to appeal.
As of July 2021, a new draft of Initiative 65 was being worked on by bill sponsors and advocates. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves promised to hold a special legislative session for medical cannabis. But as of November 2021, no special session has been scheduled, according to NORML.
There are twenty-two (22) qualifying health conditions that were approved within the Initiative 65 regulations. The list of conditions is similar to diagnostic eligibility requirements in other states.
If Mississippi Initiative 65 is implemented, a patient would be required to have one of the following chronic health conditions or symptoms.
If the proposed medical cannabis program is implemented in Mississippi, patients would be required to have a formal diagnosis. Symptoms or previous diagnoses would have to be included in the patient’s medical records in order to apply for a Mississippi medical card.
Currently, it is illegal to buy, sell or possess cannabis in Mississippi. There are no medical cannabis dispensaries available for patients.
The proposed legislation provided by Initiative 65 would allow adults aged eighteen (18) and older to apply for doctor-supervised medical cannabis. However, the Initiative 65 laws and regulations have not been passed.
It is unknown at this time, as medical cannabis is not legalized in Mississippi. However, most states do require that patients create a user profile on a secure website.
Other cannabis programs provide alerts and payments through the online patient portal as well. That means patients need to have access to an email address for renewals and other information.
It is not known if Mississippi will allow access for minors. In other states, children under eighteen (18) years may be approved for medical cannabis. A caretaker (legal guardian) must be appointed, however.
Most states require that a caregiver is an adult over the age of twenty-one years. The caregiver must also be a parent or legal guardian of the minor. A background check is usually required, and a caregiver may be ineligible if they have a prior felony conviction.
Initiative 65 outlines a $25 registration fee for caregivers. And a $37 additional charge for a criminal background check.
All states with medical cannabis programs have a system where the medical card expires after a period of time. For most states, renewal is required on an annual basis. For other states, medical cards may remain valid for up to two years.
Medical cannabis cards in legalized states are usually renewed online. There may be a secure patient and payment portal. In some states, a renewal form must be mailed to the cannabis authority. There is an annual fee for renewing a medical card that varies by state.
Every medical cannabis program has an easy and fast way to replace a medical card. If a patient has lost or damaged their Mississippi medical card, they will be able to replace it for a small fee.
Some states also allow patients to download a printable copy of their medical card. And patient identification number. However, the administrative regulations have not been established since Initiative 65 was legally paused.
Currently, you cannot purchase medical marijuana in Mississippi. However, voter ratified Initiative 65 did outline how much cannabis patients would be able to buy.
According to the proposed laws, patients would be able to buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. There would also be a state tax of 7% on all sales of medical cannabis products.
Medical marijuana is not yet legal in Mississippi. The Supreme Court of Mississippi has blocked Initiative 65, even though it was ratified on November 3, 2020.
Mississippi has some of the most punitive criminal charges for cannabis possession or distribution. That may be one of the reasons why cannabis legal reform has been challenging in MS.
For example, the sale of over ten (10) pounds of cannabis carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, without any possibility for parole. Trafficking or possession of any amount of concentrated cannabis has a mandatory thirty (30) year prison sentence.
January, 2014—House Bill 1231 was introduced by Rep. Sam C. Mims. It was quickly referred to the Judiciary Committee on January 2, 2014. The House of Representatives approved HB 1231 with a unanimous vote of 119 in favor, and none opposed.
When Mississippi Gov. Bryant signed House Bill 1231 into law, it was called “Harper Grace’s Act”. However, HB 1231 was not medical cannabis legislation. Instead, it authorized research and production of clinical-grade cannabidiol (CBD) extract only.
The legislation limited compounding requirements for CBD products to a minimum of 15% CBD and a maximum 0.50% THC.
Source Web 2021: law.justia.com
THC is the psychoactive component in marijuana. Mississippi and many other states only allow low-THC forms of CBD oil in order to address illnesses. In the case of Mississippi, again, the only patients allowed to use even CBD oil are children suffering from intractable epilepsy – and even that minimal access is probably years away from actually occurring.
But even when, or if, CBD oil becomes available in the state, the product will very likely not bring many benefits to patients suffering from other illnesses. CBD, when taken in significant amounts, is effective in helping reduce seizures. However, people who have other debilitating illnesses typically respond better to strains of cannabis that are higher in THC. It is critically important that these patients not only have access to medical cannabis, but also the strains that best address their particular conditions.
For example, strains high in THC are effective appetite stimulants for people dealing with the side effects of chemotherapy, and can also help reduce spasticity in patients suffering from multiple sclerosis. THC can also help reduce the pain associated with neuropathy or nerve damage.