Updated on February 2, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
As legislation changes in Mississippi, check back to this section for information about how those legislative changes will affect the prospect of medical marijuana in Mississippi.
Medical marijuana in Mississippi remains largely inaccessible for the vast majority of patients suffering from serious illnesses. The State of Mississippi has not passed any medical marijuana laws that would enable qualified patients to use marijuana for medical use, on the recommendation of a physician. However, on April 17, 2014, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed “Harper Grace’s Law,” otherwise known as House Bill 1231, effective July 01, 2014.
The law provides patients afflicted with a debilitating epileptic condition, the ability to use cannabidiol (CBD) in the form of cannabis oil, resin or extract that has no more than 15% CBD, and no more than 0.5% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) while being protected by an affirmative defense.
HB 1231 further states that “the CBD oil must be obtained from or tested by the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi and dispensed by the Department of Pharmacy Services at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.”
Upon passage of “Harper Grace’s Law,” Mississippi Governor made a statement announcing that the bill he signed into law on April 17, 2014, will help children who suffer from severe seizure disorders. He went on further to say that CBD oil is not an intoxicant, according to the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, and as an outcome of HB 1231, CBD may be therapeutically used, in the same manner as other controlled prescription medications.
While Harper Grace’s Law is a positive step in the right direction, for Mississippi patients, the Governor ended off his statement reaffirming he is opposed to any effort that would attempt to legalize marijuana or its derivatives, outside the confines of this bill.
For more information on how to access CBD cannabis oil in Mississippi, kindly contact the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi directly.
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In February 2017, a state legislator introduced a bill that would create a comprehensive program for Mississippi medical marijuana. Rep. Joel Bomgar submitted legislation that would make medical cannabis available to patients suffering from a wide range of health problems. While it would be more experimental in nature, it would at least be a major step forward for people suffering from medical conditions such as:
The bill would not allow patients to smoke weed but would make it legal to use edibles and several other types of cannabis-infused products. Bomgar said he was driven to introduce the legislation after seeing both of his parents die of cancer and watching them have to deal with the devastating side effects of chemotherapy. He said he believes that if they had access to medical cannabis, they would have been better able to tolerate the treatment.
The current Mississippi medical marijuana program has proven to be basically worthless. Many people are tired of waiting for the program to be improved and are considering moving out of the state. Some legislators are feeling pressure to create a workable program because the neighboring state of Arkansas has established one.
Until that happens, however, the current program will be the best state residents can hope for. In March 2017, the Legislature did make a slight adjustment to state law, allowing additional pharmacies to prepare and dispense cannabidiol (CBD) oil. Before that adjustment was made, only the University of Mississippi Medical Center was allowed to produce CBD oil and dispense it. This was obviously unacceptable to patients and their families who could not make the trip to the university.
But even with the changes to the law, it will likely be several years before any patients will be accessible to CBD oil. There’s even a possibility that access will never be granted. The reason is that the federal government must grant approval in order for clinicians to test CBD oil. The medical center had to submit a more than a 30-page proposal to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration just to get permission to treat a group of 5-10 children suffering from epilepsy. That permission was not expected until the spring or summer of 2017 at the earliest.
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.