Mississippi has become the 37th state to legalize medical marijuana. Governor Tate Reeves ( R) signed the Marijuana Medical Cannabis Act after the bill went through multiple revisions. The law permits cannabis treatment for severe and life-altering illnesses such as cancer, AIDS, and Alzheimer’s. Specific language in the bill allows for medical patients that have “debilitating medical conditions.”
Voters approved a medical marijuana initiative in November 2020 that would have allowed for a more significant amount of medical cannabis to be purchased per month. Mississippi’s Supreme Court invalidated the vote, but despite that, lawmakers worked to provide a bill the governor would sign.
The first-term governor has been hesitant to sign the legalization and made clear that the previously proposed legislation needed amendments. Reeves had cited concerns “who would be eligible to receive medical marijuana,” the “amount of marijuana that can be provided to people,” and the “level of THC dosages” in cannabis products. When lawmakers had presented a more lenient bill, Reeves made it apparent he would not be signing it. However, the new language in Marijuana Medical Cannabis Act appears to have addressed his worries. Reeves said before he signed, “I have made it clear that the bill on my desk is not the one that I would have written. 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.”
The new bill that Reeves felt comfortable signing has 20 qualifying conditions. This includes only allowing medical professionals to prescribe cannabis if treatment is within their scope of practice. Marijuana dispensaries are also not allowed to be located near churches or schools.
Another reason that Reeves signed was that the passed bill had measures to prevent recreational use; medical patients will only be able to buy up to 3 ounces a month and 3.5 grams a day. Whether in flower or pre-rolls, the limit on daily use is firm. After signing the bill, Reeves released a statement in which he said, “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.”
Patients in Mississippi grappling with these illnesses’ crippling pain and symptoms will finally have some relief with medical marijuana. The signing of this bill is a win for all the patients who need medical marijuana. The hope is that the rollout of the Medical Marijuana Act will be the first legal step towards more comprehensive cannabis patient care and possibly recreational legalization in the far future. For now, at least patients with debilitating conditions have access to medical marijuana.