Patients with conditions such as sickle cell, cancer, and AIDS in Mississippi have a reason to be thankful. This is after Mississippi governor Tate Reeves signed the bill into law in early February, legalizing the use of medical marijuana in the state.
The state has now become the 39th US state to allow the use of medical marijuana. The Mississippi cannabis news was received with gratitude across the state, with many people saying it is a bold step the Mississippi legislation has taken. No cannabis dispensary is likely to open doors until the end of the year.
Recreational marijuana users will wait for an uncertain period
Although the Mississippi cannabis for medical use legalization was good news to the families of patients who need to use the products, recreational cannabis users are yet to celebrate. The Mississippi cannabis laws for adult marijuana use might take more time before legalization.
According to the governor, many people will benefit from medical cannabis prescription doses. However, the Mississippi governor is still opposed to the adult marijuana use program. According to him, marijuana for recreational use is the root of many ills in society, family, and a larger population of people who want to smoke more and work less.
For those who want to apply for licenses, applications will be accepted in 120 days. The acceptance period for dispensary license applications is 150 days. According to stakeholders, the bill that governor Reeves signed into law is not consistent with what the public voted for through ballot in 2020.
Compared to what the voters voted for, the Mississippi cannabis laws are significantly restrictive. However, the Mississippi Supreme Court dismissed the public initiative measure based on a technicality. Applicants have unlimited opportunities to apply for licenses, although the municipal administrations may choose to opt out.
It took over one year for voters to get their rights
Mississippi voters went to the ballot in November 2020, and the majority voted in favor of medical marijuana. Sooner, the Mississippi Supreme Court voided the initiative even after voters overwhelmingly voted in its favor. It has taken more than one year for the legislature to debate the bill and pass it.
Nevertheless, the Mississippi cannabis news was received positively because it was a good move for the legislators to take up the bill after the court struck down the voting results based on procedures.
Although governor Reeves had reservations on the quantities an individual should be allowed to buy, the legislators through the conference committee delivered the final bill to him for signing. The legislators lowered the minimum threshold patients will be allowed to buy, although it is not the lower threshold the governor had wished.
In a statement before signing the Mississippi cannabis bill, the governor raised concerns that the bill was not what he would have written. He pointed out that the legislators had made significant changes to the bill that would help the state government meet its supreme goal.
After the final draft was approved by the legislators, governor Reeves had five days to sign it into law or return it to the house with recommended amendments. If he had decided to do nothing about the bill, it would have automatically become law without his signature.
The governor said he signed the Mississippi cannabis laws bill based on the improvements made. He thanked the legislators for their spirited effort to work on the amendments. He appreciated them and the Mississippians for making their voice heard.
Now that the Mississippi cannabis bill is signed into law, the processes for licensing dispensaries have already started. It will take about six months to complete. Mississippians will be able to buy medical cannabis by the end of this year if everything goes as planned.
The voters had voted for a highly permissive plan, but the legislators voted for a more restrictive plan as preferred by the governor. The clauses in the final draft contain many provisions in the earlier draft they debated upon in mid-last year.
The Mississippi cannabis laws limit patients to purchase not more than 3.5 grams of marijuana daily. The total purchase cannot exceed 3 ounces per month. Patients who qualify for cannabis doses are those with prescriptions from doctors. Some of the diseases that qualify are muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, sickle cell anemia, and glaucoma.
Through a petition, the legislators may add other conditions to the Mississippi cannabis laws. Under the new law, patients are not allowed to grow their cannabis. The law permits cannabis products to be bought from a licensed cannabis dispensary. Mississippi cannabis limits 30% THC extracted from cannabis flower and 60% from concentrate.
Mississippi cannabis provides for cannabis products taxation at 5% at the wholesale level, and there will be a tax at the retail level. It will be illegal to vape or smoke in public places or vehicles.
Under the law, the Mississippi Department of Health will establish a nine-member committee to oversee the sector, advise, and recommend issues like safety and access to products.
Voters had voted for 5 ounces
In the November 2020 marijuana initiative, voters had voted for patients to be allowed to buy up to 5 ounces of medical marijuana monthly. However, this was changed after the court declared the initiative invalid six months later.
The Republican majority state house and Senate passed the bill more than one year after amending the maximum limit to 3.5 grams daily or a maximum of 3 ounces monthly. The new Mississippi cannabis laws restrict the growth of cannabis plants indoors only. It also sets taxes at the production and sale levels.
The Mississippi cannabis news spread fast, although the law prohibits any state-initiated incentives to the cannabis industry. That means there will be no tax breaks for growers or processors of cannabis and cannabis products.
The Mississippi cities have up to 90 days to decide whether they will opt out from allowing the establishment of medical marijuana facilities within them. If the city’s authorities decide to opt out, the residents have the right to petition the decision through an election.