Yes, medical marijuana is legal in Mississippi. Governor Tate Reeves signed legislation SB 2095 into law in February 2022, permitting the use of medical marijuana for certain debilitating medical conditions. Prior to 2022, only the use of low-THC cannabis was 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.
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 program only served a few qualified medical patients in Mississippi.
However, the current Mississippi Cannabis Program serves all persons with a qualifying medical condition. The Mississippi Department of Health complies with the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act. It handles the regulating, licensing, and law enforcement for cannabis cultivation, processing, testing, waste disposal, and transportation facilities. It also oversees the registration process for healthcare practitioners, the issuance of ID cards for patients, and managing the seed-to-sale tracking system.
As of June 2022, all patients and caregivers may apply for medical cannabis certification by visiting a medical practitioner participating in the medical cannabis program. After assessment and ascertaining a qualifying medical condition, the patient may apply online for medical cannabis use within 60-days of medical certification with the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Program. Patients and caregivers would receive an electronic identification card which they would use to obtain medical marijuana at a medical cannabis dispensary. However, patients between 18-23 years must obtain a written certification from two medical practitioners. The state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries are expected to be operational before the end of 2022.
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. Cultivating cannabis is also illegal in Mississippi. The penalty for cultivating cannabis depends on the aggregate weight of the plants.
The following are some of the marijuana bills and initiatives proposed in Mississippi in the last year:
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.
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.
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 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.
The bill seeks to address who qualifies for the medical marijuana program, the conditions for approving a patient by a certifying practitioner, possession and purchase limits, the regulatory authority, and its functions. The bill also includes requirements for medical cannabis businesses, including local controls, legal protections, regulations, taxation, fees, potency caps, and the timeline for implementation.
The changes to Mississippi marijuana law are as follows
In 2022, federal legislation passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act. The new bill removes marijuana from the schedule 1 list of controlled substances and terminates criminal consequences for persons who possess, distribute, and manufacture marijuana. Specifically, the act aims to implement the following changes:
Yes. Patients with qualifying medical conditions such as alzheimer’s, autism, cancer, hepatitis, Huntington's disease, Parkison’s disease, muscular dystrophy, glaucoma, sickle-cell anemia, agitation of dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder, neuropath, chronic pain, crohn’s disease, spinal cord disease, intractable nausea, wasting syndrome, spastic quadriplegia, ulcerative colitis, HIV, seizures, multiple sclerosis, and AIDS may use medical cannabis. Again persons with severe epilepsy are permitted to use low-THC cannabis to treat their ailment under Harper Grace's Law.
Cannabis has psychoactive properties and is 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 make 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. 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.
The recreational sale of marijuana is still illegal in Mississippi, and as such, the state prohibits the sale of cannabis. However, persons with at least one of the 28 debilitating medical conditions may purchase medical cannabis from licensed marijuana dispensaries (medical marijuana treatment centers), provided they have a valid medical marijuana card. The legislature SB 2095 passed in 2022 makes it legal for qualified patients to purchase up to 1 gram of concentrate, 3.5 grams of flower, or 100 milligrams of THC in an infused product daily.
Based on the law, qualified patients and caregivers cannot:
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
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:
Mississippi marijuana possession laws dictate that 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 ranges 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.
Anyone who possesses marijuana intending to distribute it commits an unlawful act. The law prescribes imprisonment for up to three years and a fine not exceeding $3,000 for 30 grams or less. Possession with intent to distribute more than 30 grams but less than 250 grams of marijuana commits an offense attracting a penalty of up to five years in jail and a maximum fine of $5,000.
Mississippi marijuana distribution laws dictate that persons with 250 -500 grams of marijuana with an intent to distribute the same face three to ten years of incarceration and fines of up to $15,000 on conviction. The Mississippi Act also prescribes a penalty of five to ten years of jail time with a maximum fine of $20,000 for 500 grams to 1 kilogram of marijuana possessed with the intent to distribute.
Marijuana trafficking laws in Mississippi define trafficking as distributing one kilogram or more of marijuana. Trafficking marijuana in Mississippi is a felony. The penalty for trafficking marijuana is a mandatory jail term of 10 years but not more than 40 years. In addition, the court may impose fines between $5,000 and $1,000,000. The offender is not eligible for parole or probation with the mandatory jail term.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It is possible to beat a marijuana charge in Mississippi. However, it depends on the following:
Mississippi law permits law enforcement to confiscate assets used for criminal marijuana-related activities. Assets confiscated, including money, real estate, building, and motor vehicles were properties used in the commission of the marijuana-related offense or are the proceeds gained from the sale, trafficking, or distribution of marijuana.
Additional legal marijuana limitations in Mississippi dictate the following:
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 did rest on their oars and worked tirelessly to legalize medical cannabis in Mississippi and in January 2022, the Mississippi legislature gave the final approval for the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act (SB 2095).
The following restrictions exist on cannabis in Mississippi: