While it will have taken more than one for the parliamentarians of Mississippi to agree on a text, less than a week will have been enough for the governor to sign the law this Wednesday, February 2. This takes effect immediately, but it could take several months for the first cannabis dispensary to open its doors.
“There is no doubt that citizens of our state would be much better off if they had access to medically prescribed doses of cannabis,” Republican Gov. Tate Reeves wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.
My statement on the medical marijuana bill: pic.twitter.com/VTpXbfMv6C
—Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) February 2, 2022
In the same message, the governor takes the opportunity to tackle legalization efforts for adults: “There are also those who really want a recreational marijuana program that could lead to more people smoking and fewer people working, with all the societal and family ills that this entails. My objective since the first day of my inauguration has been to authorize [le cannabis médical] and to do everything in my power to minimize and diminish – knowing well that it is impossible to eliminate it – the latter’s possibilities. »
Mississippi thus becomes the 37th American state to legalize medical cannabis, in addition to 4 territories.
“For all the people who are impacted in some way by a loved one or someone they know who benefits from medical cannabis, it gives them a quality of life back,” said Ken Newburger, director executive of the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Associationa group that lobbied for legalization.
Jax James, NORML’s national policy manager, explains the limitations of the current law, however.
“We remain concerned that lawmakers have seen fit to add unnecessary taxes on cannabis products, that patients are prohibited from growing limited amounts of cannabis at home for personal use, and that people with chronic pain can only access cannabis products after using more dangerous and addictive substances like opioids,” she said.
A complicated journey
In November 2020, voters in Mississippi decided between two separate ballot measures that sought to legalize access to medical cannabis. 73% of voters voted in favor of the citizens’ initiative. However, Republican lawmakers later challenged the legitimacy of the state’s voter initiative process. Members of the Supreme Court ultimately upheld that challenge — a decision that overturned the 2020 vote and barred citizens from placing future measures on the ballot.
Under the new law, state regulators have 60 days after enactment to begin issuing registry ID cards to eligible patients. Officials must begin providing licenses for dispensary operations within 150 days.
The law allows qualified patients to purchase up to 3.5 grams of cannabis flower or up to 1 gram of cannabis concentrate per day from licensed dispensaries. Patients will not be able to purchase more than three ounces (84 grams) of cannabis flower per month. Flower will be limited to 30% THC, while concentrate products will be limited to 60% THC. The measure does not limit the number of licensed dispensaries that can be operational at any given time. Cannabis purchases will be subject to 7% state sales tax and an additional 5% excise tax.