Mississippi Marijuana Laws

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Is Marijuana Legal in Mississippi?

Mississippi has not legalized medical marijuana, but the use of low-THC cannabis is allowed for medical purposes. Under the Harper Grace's Law, designated HB 1231, signed into law in 2014, patients with severe epilepsy can only use low-THC cannabis as a treatment for their medical condition. This law, although restrictive, provides a defense to such medical patients and their parents or guardians to possess and use CBD oil or resin containing at least 15% CBD. If in liquid form, HB 1231 permits medical patients to use at least 50 milligrams of CBD per milliliter with not more than 0.5% THC.

Recreational marijuana is illegal in Mississippi, and persons caught using or carrying it risk fines, criminal convictions, and jail time. Mississippi classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance. These substances have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical value. However, Miss. Code §§ 41-29-113, 41-29-136 (2019) made an exception for CBD use and possession. In the November 3, 2020 election, an overwhelming majority of the voters in Mississippi approved Initiative 65, an Initiative that was going to legalize medical marijuana fully for 22 debilitating medical conditions. However, on May 14, 2021, the state's Supreme Court overturned the Initiative on the premise that the ballot process is outdated and the medical marijuana measure was not suitably on the ballot.

Currently, some Mississippi lawmakers are painstakingly working on proposals to legalize medical marijuana and create a medical marijuana program for the state. Legalizing recreational marijuana in Mississippi is not yet imminent in the state. However, Mississippians can petition to have a vote on recreational marijuana legalization put on the ballot, which might happen once medical marijuana is legalized. Initiative 65, which would have prepared the grounds for recreational marijuana legalization in Mississippi, was in May 2021 invalidated by the state's Supreme Court.

Since the legalization of medical marijuana in Mississippi did not go as planned, the proposed medical marijuana program, which was to be managed by the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH), was stopped. Consequently, the state is yet to design a medical marijuana identification card as proposed by Initiative 65. The Harper Grace Law currently requires the National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR) at the University of Mississippi to provide CBD oil to users. However, the NCNPR restricts the dispensing of CBD oil to the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) under appropriate federal and state regulatory approval. Because of these restrictions and the difficulty in obtaining requisite approvals from the relevant federal agencies, the current program only serves a few qualified medical patients in Mississippi.

Can I Use Cannabis?

No. Currently, it is illegal to use cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes in Mississippi. However, medical patients with severe epilepsy are permitted to use low-THC cannabis to treat their ailment under Harper Grace's Law. In Mississippi, CBD oil used for treating epilepsy must contain at least 15% CBD. Patients can use at least 50 milligrams of CBD per milliliter with not more than 0.5% THC in liquid form.

Cannabis is a group of three plants known as cannabis indica, cannabis sativa, and cannabis ruderalis. They all have psychoactive properties and are used for recreational and medicinal purposes. Generally, cannabis contains a minimum of 120 active compounds. The most dominating ingredients are delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the major psychoactive compound in marijuana, and it is what makes cannabis users high. CBD is a psychoactive cannabinoid that does not intoxicate or male users high. CBD exists in various forms, but the common ones are capsules, gummy candies, and oils. People can use cannabis in several ways, including brewing as a tea, smoking, eating it raw, and taking it as supplements or capsules. They can also apply it as a topical treatment or consume it as edibles, such as candies and brownies.

Cannabis has always been considered illegal in Mississippi. This stance may be attributed to the immigration of Mexicans to the United States during the 1910 Mexican Revolution. Typically, the traditional means of getting high by Mexicans was smoking weed. However, most Americans were not comfortable with the tradition which the Mexicans brought. At that time, unconfirmed reports had it that Mexicans were giving cannabis to naive American schoolchildren. As a result, many residents wanted it banned by all means, and between 1916 and 1931, at least 29 states outlawed cannabis. In 1937, the United States banned cannabis through the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.

In Mississippi, only small amounts (up to 30 grams) of cannabis are decriminalized. Carrying more than this amount is a crime punishable by severe penalties, including jail time. It is illegal for anyone to smoke weed in public. Marijuana laws in the state prohibit a person from operating a motor vehicle while using cannabis. Also, the consumption of marijuana on federal property or moving it into such property in Mississippi is prohibited.

Mississippi Marijuana Laws in 2022

The following are some of the marijuana bills and initiatives proposed in Mississippi in the last year:

Initiative 65

Initiative 65 is a ballot measure that had overwhelming votes by Mississippi voters in the November 2020 election. It proposed to amend the Mississippi Constitution to allow eligible medical patients with debilitating medical conditions as certified by licensed Mississippi physicians to use marijuana for medical purposes. This ballot measure also recommended that the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) should develop a medical marijuana program. The MSDH was equally meant to regulate and enforce the provisions of this amendment until the state's Supreme Court invalidated the Initiative in May 2021. Had this not happened, Initiative 65 would have become effective in August 2021.

Initiative 67

This Initiative aims to amend the Mississippi Constitution to include the Mississippi Cannabis Freedom Act. It proposes to legalize marijuana for persons 18 years and older for medical purposes and authorize the collection of taxes on marijuana. The mission of Initiative 67 is to distribute Mississippi Cannabis statewide, across the United States, and to the international boards for cannabis freedom.

Initiative 68

This Measure seeks to legalize the use, cultivation, sales, and taxation of marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for adults 18 years and older. It requires the Mississippi Legislature to support the expungement of non-violent marijuana-related crimes and the possession of a firearm by a felon with non-violent charges. Initiative 68 further recommends that non-violent felons will have immediate rights to bear arms after expungement.

Initiative 85

Initiative 85 seeks to decriminalize specific marijuana possession, use, and cultivation. It also proposes to authorize a 7% sales tax on cannabis. This Initiative would approve the smoking of marijuana wherever tobacco smoking is allowed. It provides for the release of non-violent prisoners incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses and expungement of such convictions. This Measure restricts local zoning law. It would as well require the creation of certain entities to accomplish the provisions of the Initiative.

Senate Bill 2765

Senate Bill 2765 proposes to enact the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act and authorize medical cannabis use by medical patients who have debilitating medical conditions. It would protect patients, medical providers, caregivers, dispensaries, medical cannabis establishments, and testing facilities for the use of medical cannabis. This Act would require the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) to issue registry identification cards to eligible patients and register qualifying facilities.

SB 2765 proposes that the Department of Agriculture and Commerce would license cannabis research facilities, testing facilities, and cultivation-processing facilities. It will permit local governments to enact certain ordinances, provided they do not contradict the provisions of this Act. The bill would prohibit local taxes on marijuana and provide civil and criminal penalties for violations of this Act.

Furthermore, SB 2765 intends to impose a 10% tax on the retail sales of medical cannabis products and a 4% excise tax on these products. It would establish the Workforce and College Opportunity Scholarship Fund and direct all revenue generated from the sales and excise taxes on medical cannabis products into the Fund. The bill proposes that the first 25% of the tax revenue would be allocated to the Department of Education for early learning collaboratives as established in the state's constitution. The next 25% would also go to the Department of Education for a standardized dual enrollment program. The remainder of the funds will be given to the Postsecondary Education Financial Assistance Board to create a Last-Dollar Scholarship Program for university scholars and community college students. The primary aim of this program is to provide books, materials, board, room, and tuition for Mississippi students who are in need.

House Bill 119

HB 119 seeks to amend Section 41-29-136, Mississippi Code of 1972, and it extends the date of the repealer on Harper Grace's Law. Harper Grace's Law authorizes the possession and use of cannabidiol (CBD) oil for medical purposes in Mississippi.

How the Legal Sale of Cannabis in Mississippi happens

Both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana are still illegal in Mississippi, and as such, the state prohibits the sale of cannabis. However, Initiative 65, which was struck out by Mississippi Supreme Court in May 2021, stipulated that patients could buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of medical cannabis to treat 22 qualifying debilitating medical conditions. It proposed a process to be designed by the Mississippi State Department of Health that would enable physicians to recommend medical cannabis to qualifying medical patients and allow them and their caregivers to purchase cannabis as a medicine.

But for the invalidation of Initiative 65, Mississippi was going to allow licensed marijuana dispensaries (medical marijuana treatment centers) to sell cannabis to qualifying medical patients of their caregivers, provided they have a valid medical marijuana card. However, medical marijuana treatment centers must verify buyers' medical marijuana cards before the sales of medical cannabis. Besides identification, medical marijuana cards will allow treatment centers to track the amounts of cannabis purchased within the medical marijuana database, which each licensed dispensary must use to dispense medical cannabis to patients.

Offering medical marijuana in several forms enables patients to use cannabis products in any way that suits them and their medical condition. These include topicals, beverages, flowers, juices, edibles, ointments, creams, and capsules

Penalties for Marijuana-related crimes in Mississippi

While the simple possession of cannabis is decriminalized for first-time offenders in Mississippi, other marijuana-related offenses such as sale, possession, and cultivation remain criminal offenses. The state metes out various penalties for each offense type and level. Many of these punishments are severe, and they include:

Possession

The possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis in Mississippi is a civil offense. A first conviction attracts a $250 fine. The penalties for a second-time offender include a $250 fine and a mandatory jail sentence of between 5 to 60 days. Subsequent offenses are subject to a maximum fine of $1,000 and a jail time between five days and six months.

Persons caught with more than 30 grams of cannabis in Mississippi commit a felony. Such individuals risk between 1 and 3 years prison sentence and up to a $1,000 fine if they carry between 30 grams and 250 grams of cannabis. The punishment increases to between two to eight years jail time and up to $50,000 in fines if a person is caught carrying between 250 grams and 500 grams of marijuana. Possession of between 500 grams and 1 kilogram of cannabis in Mississippi attracts a mandatory prison sentence of between 4 and 16 years. Offenders also face up to $250,000 in fines.

Anyone caught carrying 1 kilogram to 5 kilograms of cannabis in Mississippi risks a possible fine of up to $500,000 and a mandatory jail time that range from 6 and 24 years. The possession of 5 kilograms or more in the state attracts up to a $1 million fine and a prison sentence between 10 and 30 years. Mississippi considers carrying any amount of cannabis in a part of a motor vehicle other than the trunk a misdemeanor. Offenders are liable to pay up to a $1,000 fine and a jail time of up to 90 days.

Hash and Concentrates

Mississippi law recommends severe penalties for the possession, sale, and delivery of hash and concentrates. The state considers the possession of up to 0.1 grams of concentrates (an insignificant amount) as either a felony or misdemeanor. This offense is punishable by up to $1,000 fines and up to one year in jail. The possession of between 0.1 gram and 2 grams attracts a maximum of 3 years jail time and up to $50,000 in fines. Offenders risk up to $250,000 in fines and a maximum of 8 years jail time for carrying between 2 grams and 10 grams of concentrates. For possessing between 10 grams and 30 grams, a person faces between 3 and 20 years prison sentence and up to a $500,000 fine. If the amount in a person's possession is more than 30 grams, Mississippi punishes the offender with up to a $1 million fine and a maximum jail time of 30 years.

Trafficking marijuana concentrates in Mississippi comes with up to a $1 million fine and a compulsory minimum of 30 years jail time. The sale, transfer, and distribution of hash and concentrate in Mississippi is a grave offense, so is using them to batter. All these are punishable by up to $1 million fines and up to 30 years prison sentence.

Sale of Marijuana

Currently, it is illegal to sell marijuana in Mississippi, regardless of the amount, and doing so is a felony. Selling less than 30 grams attracts up to $3,000 in fines and a maximum of 3 years prison sentence. For any amount of marijuana sale between 20 grams and 250 grams, an offender is penalized with up to $5,000 fines and a jail time of not more than five years. Mississippi punishes a person caught selling between 250 grams and 500 grams of marijuana with up to $15,000 in fines and between 3 to 10 years jail sentence. For selling marijuana weighing more than 500 grams in Mississippi, offenders stand the possibility of getting penalized with up to 20 years jail time and $20,000 fines. A person caught selling marijuana to a minor in the state or selling it within 1,500 feet to any drug-free zone, such as a church or school, gets double penalties for their offense, depending on the amounts of marijuana involved.

Paraphernalia

Unless intended for legal purposes, it is illegal and a crime to possess, use, or sell marijuana paraphernalia in Mississippi. The sale and distribution of paraphernalia is a misdemeanor punishable by up to $500 fines and a maximum jail time of 6 months. If a person is caught selling it to a minor under 18 years, they are penalized with up to $1,000 fines, maximum of 1 year jail time in the county prison, or both.

Possession and use of marijuana paraphernalia in Mississippi is a misdemeanor, which is also punishable by a maximum of 6 months prison sentence and up to $500 fines. However, this penalty does not affect a defendant carrying less than 1 ounce of marijuana with paraphernalia.

Cultivation

The cultivation of marijuana in Mississippi is currently illegal. This offense attracts either marijuana sales offense or marijuana possession offense.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of Marijuana

In Mississippi, marijuana DUI laws are similar to alcohol DUI laws, except that offenders stand the chance of getting more stringent penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana. For a first DUI of marijuana offense, the offender can get up to 48 hours jail sentence, a fine between $250 and $1,000, and a 90-day license suspension. Second offenders are penalized with a jail time between five days and one year, a fine between $600 and $1,500, a 2-year license suspension, and an ignition interlock device. A third driving under the influence of a marijuana offense in Mississippi can lead to the offender spending between one to five years in prison, a fine between $2,000 and $5,000, a 5-year license suspension, and an ignition interlock device.

Besides the penalties for DUI offenses in Mississippi, offenders may be asked to take certain driving courses and perform community service for a stipulated period. Depending on how serious a DUI of marijuana offense is in the state, authorities could raise these penalties at their discretion.

What is Mississippi's Cannabis History?

In 1978, Mississippi decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, which removed a jail sentence for a first marijuana offense and replaced it with probation. In 2014, Governor Phil Bryant approved Harper Grace's Law, also known as HB 1232, to allow cannabis for the treatment of patients who suffer from a debilitating epileptic condition. The law was named after Harper Grace Durval, a young girl with an acute form of epilepsy. HB 1231 allows epileptic patients and their parents or guardians to possess and use CBD oil or resin containing at least 15% CBD. It also permits them to use 50 milligrams of CBD per milliliter with not more than 0.5% THC in liquid form. HB 1232 is highly restrictive as it requires the National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR) at the University of Mississippi to provide CBD oil to users. The NCNPR limits the dispensing of CBD oil to the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) under appropriate federal and state regulatory approval. Consequently, the program is not providing readily accessible CBD medication to many persons suffering from debilitating medical conditions in the state. It only serves a few qualified medical patients.

In the November 2020 elections, Mississippi voters approved Initiative 65 to legalize medical marijuana fully as a treatment for 22 debilitating medical conditions. The Initiative created a process for only qualified Mississippi physicians to recommend medical cannabis for patients with qualifying debilitating conditions after a proper evaluation. It is also intended to allow medical patients and their caregivers to obtain, possess, and use marijuana for medical purposes. Initiative 65 equally required the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) to develop a medical marijuana program that will spearhead the issuance of medical marijuana cards to qualifying medical patients. As part of the plan towards legalizing medical marijuana in Mississippi, the MSDH was authorized to start issuing treatment center (dispensary) licenses by August 2021 until the state's Supreme Court overturned Initiative 65.

Right before the 2020 election, the mayor of Madison had requested the Mississippi Supreme Court to invalidate the petition for Initiative 65. Although the Initiative had over 70% of the voters' support in the election, the Supreme Court invalidated it in May 2021, stating that the Initiative process was outdated. The Supreme Court claimed that the Mississippi Constitution requires an equal percentage of signatures from five congressional districts. However, there were only four as the state had a redistricting in 2000. Proponents of this Initiative are not resting on their oars and are working tirelessly to legalize medical cannabis in Mississippi in the next election and then recreational marijuana in the long run.

What are Restrictions on Cannabis in Mississippi?

The following restrictions exist on cannabis in Mississippi:

  1. Both recreational marijuana and medical marijuana are still illegal, and only small amounts (up to 30 grams) of cannabis are decriminalized. Possessing more than this amount is a crime punishable by severe penalties, including jail time.

  2. It is illegal for anyone to smoke marijuana in public. Users can only consume marijuana on private properties. Smoking in public is punishable by up to a $100 fine.

  3. Mississippi laws do not require an employer to employ medical cannabis patients. This implies there is a possibility of an employer firing their employees for using marijuana.

  4. Marijuana laws prohibit a person from operating a motor vehicle, boat, train, or aircraft while consuming or impaired by marijuana. A person caught doing so risks paying huge fines and a jail sentence.

  5. In Mississippi, medical cannabis patients are forbidden from carrying guns or ammunition.

  6. Mississippi prohibits the transportation of marijuana from the state to another state, even if the destination has legalized cannabis. Under federal law and Mississippi law, marijuana is a Schedule I substance. Marijuana is still illegal at the national level, and moving them across state lines is a federal crime.

  7. Consumption of marijuana on federal property or moving it into such property in Mississippi is prohibited.

  8. Cultivation of marijuana for either recreational or medical purposes is illegal in Mississippi. At the moment, the only body allowed to grow cannabis in the state is the National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR) at the University of Mississippi under a tightly regulated growing program for research purposes.

Mississippi Marijuana Laws