Consequences of Getting a Medical Card in Mississippi

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Benefits of Having a Medical Marijuana Card in Mississippi

The following are some of the benefits of obtaining a Mississippi medical marijuana card:

Legal Protection

Medical marijuana cards permit patients registered in the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Program to lawfully purchase, possess, and use cannabis within approved limits. Recreational marijuana is currently illegal in the state, and the only means of obtaining cannabis without legal consequences or prosecution is to have a Mississippi medical marijuana card. Persons who procure less than 30g of marijuana without medical marijuana cards in Mississippi commit a misdemeanor offense. The penalty is up to 60 days jail term and fines not exceeding $250. However, possession of 250g of marijuana and above is a felony punishable by a jail term of between 1 and 30 years and fines between $250 and $1 million.

Mississippi does not require that registered cannabis patients carry their medical marijuana cards or identification cards around. Instead, the state has a verification process to ensure the legal protection of registered patients stopped by law enforcement. The state maintains a confidential database of cardholders containing the identity of registered patients and the validity of their cards.

Access for Minors

Minors under the age of 18 with qualifying medical conditions can obtain medical marijuana cards in Mississippi. With their cards, they can legally access medical marijuana through their parents or guardians.

Reciprocity

Mississippi medical marijuana cardholders can purchase medical cannabis in other states that have legalized medical cannabis and offer reciprocity to out-of-state patients. Presently, they can use their cards in Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Utah, West Virginia, and Washington D.C. Mississippi medical marijuana cardholders may also procure cannabis in Arkansas, Hawaii, Maryland, and Oklahoma if they apply for temporary cards while visiting.

Firearm Possession

Although the Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits users of controlled substances, including medical cannabis users, from owning firearms, medical marijuana patients in Mississippi can legally purchase and possess firearms in the state. Per Section 8(3) of the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act, the state or local government cannot prohibit medical marijuana users from purchasing or owning firearms based solely on their status as registered medical marijuana patients. It further reiterates that local agencies and municipal authorities cannot revoke, suspend, restrict, or infringe on the rights of medical marijuana patients to purchase or possess firearms based solely on their status as medical cannabis cardholders.

Downsides of Getting a Medical Marijuana Card in Mississippi

There are downsides to obtaining medical marijuana cards in Mississippi. These include the following:

Driving Restrictions

There are restrictions on medical cannabis cardholders driving in Mississippi. Per Section 63-11-30 of the Mississippi Code, it is unlawful for any person to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance, including medical cannabis. However, Mississippi has no legal marijuana blood or urine limit. The consequences for drugged driving in Mississippi include:

  • Fines of not less than $250 but not exceeding $5,000
  • Imprisonment of between 48 hours and 5 years
  • Suspension of driving privileges for at least 90 days and up to 5 years
  • Vehicle forfeiture
  • Community service in lieu of imprisonment
  • Mandatory attendance at a drug education or treatment program or counseling

Anyone who operates a commercial vehicle in Mississippi must obtain a Commercial Driving License (CDL). However, commercial vehicle drivers are subject to federal regulations, and federal law prohibits marijuana consumption and possession. The Department of Transport (DOT), in its Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation, emphasized that medical marijuana is not permitted for commercial vehicle drivers regardless of the legal status of marijuana in a state. Therefore, commercial drivers in Mississippi risk losing their CDLs if they test positive for marijuana.

Annual Renewal

Mississippi medical marijuana cards are valid for one year and require annual renewal. While cardholders must pay $25 to renew their cards annually, Medicaid participants pay a reduced fee of $15. Mississippi requires cardholders to be re-evaluated for medical cannabis and obtain certification from their licensed healthcare practitioners before applying for their card renewal. Consultations with physicians for this purpose can cost up to $199, even if they were held via telemedicine services. Although the card renewal applications can be made online, there is the burden of waiting time to process the cards, as it takes up to 30 days to approve or deny medical marijuana card renewal applications.

Employment Restrictions

The Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act does not protect medical marijuana patients from workplace discrimination. Per Section 7 of the Act, employers are not mandated to accommodate or allow medical marijuana use or modify working conditions for employees who are medical cannabis users. It permits employers to establish and enforce drug testing policies. Also, hiring individuals who use medical cannabis is at the discretion of employers. Furthermore, the Mississippi Cannabis Act does not prevent civil or criminal penalties as a result of negligence due to impairment from medical marijuana use. In addition, it does not interfere with federal restrictions regarding drug testing, such as the DOT regulations.

Medical marijuana cards do not show up during background screening, as they are obtained as part of a doctor's recommendation. Therefore, they are considered part of patients’ medical records and private. All medical records are closely protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA).

Federal Prohibitions

Medical marijuana cardholders in Mississippi cannot work for any federal government agency in the state. Federal employees are required to remain drug-free regardless of the legal status of cannabis in a state. Marijuana is illegal federally, and federal employees who obtain Mississippi medical marijuana cards risk losing their jobs.

Registered medical cannabis patients in Mississippi who live in federally subsidized housing are not permitted to use or possess cannabis at home. In fact, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), consistent with federal laws, prohibits marijuana users from taking up residence in federally assisted housing.

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