Updated on December 9, 2017. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Medical marijuana laws in Mississippi still make it a crime for someone suffering from a serious disease to turn to the cannabis plant for relief. Even though half of the states in the U.S. allow use for medicinal purposes, progress toward making it legal in Mississippi continues to be very slow.
That doesn’t mean progress is non-existent. For example, a state representative introduced a bill in 2016 that would have established a pilot program for patients who are seriously ill due to certain conditions to be able to use medical cannabis with the recommendation of a doctor. However, this bill was unable to get out of the committee stage. This is not at all uncommon, though. In many states — especially politically conservative ones such as Mississippi — it can take many years, and many campaigns, before marijuana reform efforts gain substantial traction.
The state did pass a law in 2014 that allows certain patients suffering from seizure disorder to possess and use cannabis extracts that are low in THC and high in CBD, or cannabidiol. The only problem is the number of people who can benefit from this change in Mississippi marijuana laws is extremely low.
Punishments under marijuana law in Mississippi have lessened somewhat in recent years. For example, someone who is convicted for the first time of possessing less than 30 grams — or slightly more than an ounce — of weed doesn’t face jail time, but rather a $250 fine. A first-time offender will receive a civil summons instead of being arrested, as long as they can provide proof of identity and also provide a written promise that they will make a court appearance. The person will not have a criminal record, either, much like a minor traffic violation.
With subsequent convictions, however, the penalties become increasingly harsh. A second conviction of 30 grams or less of marijuana results in anywhere from five to 60 days in jail and a maximum fine of $250. A third conviction leads to a jail term of between five days and six months as well as a fine of up to $500. If someone is convicted of possessing between 30 and 250 grams, that is considered a felony. This can lead to a punishment of up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $3,000. Possession of between 250-500 grams can lead to a jail term of between two to eight years and a find of up to $50,000.
Paraphernalia use or possession is considered a misdemeanor with a maximum jail sentence of six months and a fine of up to $500. If the person is also convicted of possessing one ounce or less of marijuana, the punishment for possession is the only one they will face.
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