November 3, 2020, was a great day for cannabis advocates in Mississippi. On that day, a majority of residents voted in favor of Initiative 65, which allows medical marijuana in the state. It happened despite intense opposition, primarily from Republican lawmakers.
Also known as measure 65, citizens initiated the MMJ program charge in January 2020. In March, the state legislature voted to include an alternative, called measure 65A, on the ballot. The goal was to confuse voters and ensure that they either voted for 65A or against both legislation pieces. While 65A was an MMJ program of sorts, it left too many unanswered questions.
The Mississippi legislature has voted against or blocked around 20 MMJ-related bills. However, on this occasion, the people spoke.
It didn’t specify possession limits, qualifying conditions, taxes, fees, or whether smokable cannabis was allowed. Had Mississippians voted for 65A, they could have ended up with a highly restrictive program.
Mississippi has a long history of opposing medical marijuana. The Mississippi legislature has voted against or blocked around 20 MMJ-related bills. However, on this occasion, the people spoke and demanded a medical marijuana program.
This article outlines what we know about getting a medical marijuana card in Mississippi so far. We will update as and when we gather more information.
How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Mississippi
As the vote only happened in late 2020, it will take time for full details to emerge. We know that the Mississippi Health Department must adopt rules and regulations by July 1, 2021. It will start allowing applications for cards and dispensary licenses by August 15, 2021. All signs point towards the type of process implemented by the majority of states with medical marijuana programs.
Step 1 – Schedule an Appoint with a Licensed Physician
First and foremost, you must have a qualifying medical condition, which we outline below. It seems likely that all MMJ patients must be aged 18+ to earn eligibility. You must also be a resident of the state. If you meet these criteria, schedule a consultation with a licensed doctor in Mississippi.
They will perform an examination and ask you a few questions about your condition. They will try to understand why you need MMJ rather than traditional treatment methods. At present, Initiative 65 doesn’t say that you need a doctor’s certificate. As things stand, a diagnosis of a qualifying health condition is sufficient. However, we expect the Health Department to change that by the time the program starts.
There are no plans to permit telemedicine at present. As a result, you will need to visit the doctor in person. That said, companies such as Leafwell may expand their online services to Mississippi.
Step 2 – Send Your Application to the Mississippi Department of Health
The Department of Health still has to decide whether it will allow people to send applications online. It will certainly have a postal address, which it has not yet released.
Step 3 – Wait for Your Card
There is no detailed information on how long it will take to receive a card at the time of writing. However, patients can expect a physical ID card to arrive in the post. Once they have it, they are free to visit a licensed dispensary.
What Are the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Costs?
Initial information suggests that MMJ cardholders will pay a $50 application fee. Based on other states with programs, a doctor’s visit could cost anywhere from $150 to $300. An MMJ card is likely valid for one year.
The state plans to tax cannabis like other consumer goods with a 7% rate. Initiative 65 doesn’t place any special excise taxes on marijuana. This is good news and should keep the cost of cannabis down.
What Conditions Qualify for a Medical Marijuana Card in Mississippi?
One thing that seems clear is the list of qualifying conditions. Prospective MMJ users must have one of the following conditions and receive certification from a licensed physician.
- Epilepsy or seizures
- Huntington’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Chronic/debilitating pain
- Agitation of dementia
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn’s disease
- Autism (with self-injurious or aggressive behaviors)
- Sickle-cell anemia
- Severe muscle spasticity
- Intractable nausea
- Spinal cord disease or severe injury
- Pain refractory to the appropriate management of opioids
Other Information on the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Process
We will need to wait until well into 2021 before knowing everything about the Mississippi MMJ program. However, we have endeavored to include the information we currently possess.
How Much Cannabis Can I Purchase & Possess in Mississippi?
When the program comes into force, an MMJ cardholder can have up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis in a 14-day period. The weight of additives to products such as edibles, tinctures, and ointments will not count towards this limit.
Will a Mississippi MMJ Cardholder Be Allowed to Grow Marijuana at Home?
No. At present, there is no provision for home cultivation, and that is unlikely to change. Only medical cannabis businesses with a license from the Department of Health to grow marijuana can cultivate it.
Where Can I Purchase Marijuana?
The Health Department will regulate and license dispensaries, which will be called treatment centers in Mississippi. It hasn’t yet outlined how many dispensaries will operate in the state. However, the Department says that no center can be located within 500 feet of a licensed child care center, school, or church.
On the plus side, zoning ordinances are not more restrictive on MMJ sellers than on retail pharmacies.
Where Can I Use Cannabis?
MMJ cardholders can only use their marijuana in a private residence. It is against the law to consume it in public. A violation of this law will result in a $100 fine.
What Are the Penalties for Violating Program Rules?
The penalties for breaking MMJ rules are severe for cardholders and licensed sellers. A first violation could result in a fine of up to $5,000. It can reach $25,000 for a subsequent violation. The Health Department can remove a licensee or MMJ cardholder from the program. It can also deny, suspend, or revoke a license.
Is There Any Other Relevant Information I Need to Know?
At present, there is no news regarding the caregiver process, nor has the Department of Health outlined whether a reciprocity agreement is in place. The Mississippi MMJ program seemingly will allow minors to apply with the permission of a guardian.
Final Thoughts on Getting a Medical Marijuana Card in Mississippi
2021 is set to be a huge year for the cannabis industry as more states implement MMJ programs. Mississippi will probably begin its version in earnest by the end of 2021. Until then, cannabis remains illegal in all forms.