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900 Mississippians Approved for Medical Cannabis as Program Takes Shape

Mississippi’s fledgling medical cannabis program is slowly but surely coming together, with state officials targeting early next year for the opening of the first dispensaries. 

Local news station WLBT reports that “900 Mississippians have already applied and been certified for their medical marijuana cards,” and that there is hope for the first dispensaries to open their doors early next year.

Since June, applications for medical cannabis cards were accepted by the state.

Mississippi legalized a medical cannabis program earlier this year after the state’s Republican governor, Tate Reeves, signed a bill into law.

“The ‘medical marijuana bill’ has consumed an enormous amount of space on the front pages of the legacy media outlets across Mississippi over the last three-plus years,” Reeves said in a statement following the bill signing. “There is no doubt that there are individuals in our state who could do significantly better if they had access to medically prescribed doses of cannabis. There are also those who really want a recreational marijuana program that could lead to more people smoking and less people working, with all of the societal and family ills that that brings.”

The governor’s signature marked the culmination of a multi-year legislative process after voters in the state approved a ballot measure in 2020 to legalize medical marijuana treatment there. 

After the state Supreme Court ruled against voter approval, it deemed it invalid on a technicality. This led to Mississippi lawmakers drafting their own proposal for medical cannabis. 

Reeves was against the 2020 ballot initiative. He engaged the legislature in discussions about the bill. At one point, he demanded that legislators set a daily limit of 2.7 grams for patients.

However, the legislation that was presented to him earlier in the year allowed patients to buy up to 3.5g as often as six times per week. The legislation passed with a majority vote of veto.

“I have made it clear that the bill on my desk is not the one that I would have written,” Reeves said in his statement at the time. “But it is a fact that the legislators who wrote the final version of the bill (the 45th or 46th draft) made significant improvements to get us towards accomplishing the ultimate goal.”

However, Governor Scott did not applaud all provisions contained in the law.

“1. The total amount anyone can receive is reduced to three ounces per month. The total amount will be reduced by 40% from the original (I requested 50%). Said differently, there will be hundreds of millions of fewer joints on the streets because of this improvement,” Reeves said at the time. “2. A medical professional cannot prescribe outside the boundaries of their practice. The relationship must be established with the patient. It requires a visit in person by the patient to the doctor. 3. For children under 18, only an MD/DO can make a prescription. Only with parental consent or legal guardian’s permission. 4. For young adults aged 18-25, a doctor or DO must be able to prescribe. 5. The MSDH is going to promulgate advertising and packaging rules. I believe they will limit the effects on young people. 6. The Mississippi Development Authority prohibits the offering of incentives to the industry. 7. Protects our churches and schools from having a marijuana dispensary within fewer than 1,000 feet of their location.”

Reeves thanked the lawmakers for their efforts, and expressed hope that “we can put this issue behind us and move on to other pressing matters facing our state.”