With new Mississippi Medical Marijuana law in place: Who is eligible? Who can prescribe? and other questions

Published 7:11 am Thursday, February 3, 2022

Now that Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves has signed into law a medical marijuana program for the state, who qualifies under the state’s new program and what other limitations have been established under the newly signed Senate Bill 2095 , known as the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act.

To qualify, patients must have at least one qualifying medical condition and a written certification issued by a healthcare practitioner with whom they have a bona fide relationship. Patients must also apply to the Mississippi Health Department for a registration card, which costs $25 or less.

According to the law, the Mississippi Department of Health has 60 days to begin issuing registry cards, 120 days to begin accepting applications, registering practitioners, licensing medical cannabis businesses other than dispensaries and 150 days to begins licensing dispensaries.

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The Marijuana Policy Project provides a summary of the new law. Below are some highlights concerning who will qualify for receiving medical marijuana and who will be certified to prescribe, among other limitations:

Who will qualify?

  • Patients diagnosed with cancer, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, muscular dystrophy, glaucoma, spastic quadriplegia, HIV, AIDS, hepatitis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, sickle cell anemia, Alzheimer’s, agitation of dementia, PTSD, autism, pain refractory to opioid management, diabetic/peripheral neuropathy, spinal cord disease, or severe injury;
  • A chronic medical condition (or its treatment) that produces either cachexia or wasting, severe nausea, seizures, severe and persistent muscle spasms, or chronic pain — which is narrowly defined as, “a pain state in which the cause of the pain cannot be removed or otherwise treated, and which in the generally accepted course of medical practice, no relief or cure of the cause of the pain is possible, or none has been found after reasonable efforts by a practitioner;” and
    Conditions approved by the MDOH, after a petition process.ID cards expire after one year unless practitioners specify an earlier date.
  • Patients between 18-23 generally must have written certifications from two different practitioners from separate medical practices to qualify. (There is an exception for those who registered before they were 18 and the homebound.)

Who will be certified?

Mississippi-licensed physicians, certified nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and optometrists may sign written certifications for conditions within their scope of practice for medical cannabis if they believe the patient “would likely receive medical or palliative benefit” from medical cannabis to treat their qualifying condition;

Certified practitioners must have performed an in-person assessment of the patient; perform a follow-up within six months to evaluate the effectiveness, and have completed eight hours of continuing medical education courses on medical cannabis, plus five hours every year thereafter.

Only MDs and DOs may sign written certifications for minors.

Written certifications must be issued on forms approved by MDOH.

Possession and Purchase Limits

Possession and purchase limits are calculated based on “Medical Cannabis Equivalency Units” (MCEUs) of 3.5 grams of flower, up to 100 mg of THC in infused products, and up to one gram of concentrate.

  • Patients may not purchase more than six MCEUs in a week (21 grams, which is less than 3/4 ounce).
  • Patients may not purchase more than 24 MCEUs in a month (84 grams, which is less than 3 ounces).
  • Patients may not possess more than 28 MCEUs at one time (98 grams, which is less than 3.5 ounces)

Other Limitations

  • Patients could not smoke or vaporize cannabis in a motor vehicle or in public.
  • Patients and caregivers are not allowed to grow their own cannabis.
  • Minors only qualify with their parent or guardian’s consent and control of cannabis administration and dosage.
  • Patients under 21 cannot enter a dispensary without a parent or guardian.
  • Patients may not drive, operate a boat, train, or aircraft, or undertake any task that would be negligent or entail professional malpractice while under the influence.
  • The bill does not require insurance or state plans to cover medical cannabis.
  • The bill does not require any employer to allow patients to use medical cannabis or prevent them from requiring drug testing.
  • The bill appears to allow landlords to ban tenants from using medical cannabis at home.
  • Cardholders and medical cannabis establishment staffers who divert cannabis can have their ID cards revoked, in addition to facing felony penalties.