Is Cannabis Legal in Mississippi?
It has not been an easy process to predict which states would be favorable to cannabis legalization. Sometimes, the popular vote isn’t even an indicator of impending change. One example can be found in the Southern United States. Is cannabis legal in Mississippi? While deeply traditional, the legalization of cannabis in Mississippi has been imminent. In 2020, voters overwhelmingly passed a liberal marijuana referendum, but the Mississippi Supreme Court voided the measure on a technicality. Then in January 2022, state lawmakers passed a restrictive medical cannabis law as Senate Bill 2095.
Medical regulators for the state of Mississippi have recently opened the licensing application process for growers, processors, testing facilities and transporters. Dispensary applications will start being accepted as of July 1, 2022. There is no cap on the number of licenses to be issued. The Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association (3MA) is working with the public to educate them on how to get into the industry. Part of this instruction includes following the guidelines within Mississippi cannabis laws, such as product testing, and the limitations of cannabis advertising and marketing.
Part of this new law allows municipalities to opt out. As of May 23, 2022, 80 municipalities and 19 counties have decided to ban dispensaries, per state Department of Revenue data. According to state law, 20% or 1,500 voters whichever is fewer may petition to put the issue on local ballots. More than two dozen Mississippi cities opted out of the Mississippi medical cannabis program; although this limits where businesses can open and operate, it does not prevent licensed patients in those areas from using and buying medical cannabis. Generally, the majority of the state is allowing medical cannabis operations to proceed.
Mississippi Medical Cannabis
Reception has been positive for potential patients; more than 1,800 residents registered for patient accounts in the first six days via a state online portal intended to accept Mississippi medical cannabis business licenses and patient applications, according to media reports. More than two dozen conditions and symptoms will allow residents to qualify for a medical marijuana card, including cancer, autism, seizures, PTSD, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Registration on the portal is the first step to eventually receive a medical marijuana card as a patient. The portal also handles the process for doctors, optometrists and nurse practitioners to become certified providers, for facilities to obtain licensing to grow, process and test marijuana, and for businesses and their workers to become certified to transport cannabis and dispose of its waste.
Mississippi Cannabis Laws
Mississippi medical cannabis patients must meet with a certified doctor or practitioner for qualification; no professional is certified yet to offer the necessary care but doctors’ applications will be processed within 30 days, according to program rules. Eventually, approved providers and dispensaries will be listed on the state’s health department website.
Per the new Mississippi law, medical patients are allowed to purchase roughly three ounces of cannabis a month, and potency levels are capped at 30% THC for flower and 60% for concentrates, oils and tinctures. Take note: patients and caregivers are not allowed to grow their own cannabis. Additional Mississippi cannabis laws that diverge from other states’ laws: insurance and state plans are not required to cover medical cannabis, employers are not required to allow patients to use medical cannabis or prevented from requiring drug testing, and landlords are allowed to ban tenants from using medical cannabis at home.
As the program is still in its early stages, leaders expect medical marijuana to be available to purchase in the last days of 2022.
“I know everyone would love for it to be up in running,” said Jim Craig, the director of the Office of Health Protection. “It looks like it will be the end of the year that we see products.”
Cultivators are subject to a 5% excise tax on the first sale/transfer of medical cannabis. If the cultivator sells to a processing facility, this tax is due, as well as on the transfer of cannabis between related entities. Dispensaries will charge the standard 7% sales tax to cardholders at the point of sale. Dispensaries will also be responsible for special tax levies in the cities of Jackson and Tupelo. Mississippi’s medical marijuana market is projected to generate sales of $265 million in its first year and $800 million by the fourth year.
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