Medical marijuana cards (MMJ cards) prove that holders of the cards participate in the state's medical marijuana program. Mississippi's medical marijuana program is currently at an advanced planning stage, with all the final rules guiding the program expected to be finalized by July 1, 2021. The state plans to issue MMJ cards to qualified patients, caregivers, as well as owners and employees of medical marijuana treatment centers as proof of their participation.
Any individual suffering from any approved debilitating condition can apply for an MMJ card, provided they have all the supporting documents required.
The present rules do not rule out minors from participating in the state's medical marijuana program. However, parents and guardians of minor applicants must be present to receive the physicians' certification on behalf of intending minor applicants. Without their parents' or guardians' consent, they cannot obtain the physician's certification.
Individuals participating in Mississippi's medical marijuana program as patients must be suffering from at least one of these conditions:
The state is yet to clarify the exact steps prospective patients need to take to obtain their Mississippi medical marijuana cards. The state expects to have all the required regulations to successfully implement the medical marijuana program in place by July 1, 2021, and ensure its smooth take-off.
Currently, the process of obtaining a medical marijuana identification card for a caregiver has not been stated. However, Initiative 65 sets out certain conditions for any prospective primary caregiver. Such individuals must be 21 years or older and must be ready to comply with all the regulations guiding the state's medical marijuana program. Intending primary caregivers must also agree to assist their patients in using medical marijuana. According to the present rule, qualified patients can have more than one primary caregiver while caregivers can only help one patient. In addition, prospective primary caregivers will not be permitted to consume the medical marijuana allocated to their patients.
Initiative 65 did not spell out the time required to issue Mississippi medical marijuana identification cards after intending patients must have submitted their application. By July 1, 2021, complete regulations will be in place, and prospective participants in the state's medical marijuana program will know how long their cards will be issued.
While not comprehensively detailed, Initiative 65 enumerated some steps required for intending participants in the state's medical marijuana program to apply for their identification cards online. Every new applicant must receive certification from a Mississippi-licensed physician that confirms they suffer from any of the approved debilitating conditions. Prospective applicants can only receive certifications from physicians with valid Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degrees. These physicians must also be licensed by the Mississippi Board of Medical Licensure (MSBML) to practice medicine unrestrained in the state. Having obtained the physicians' certification, prospective applicants are to file applications online with the MSDH and register to enroll in the state's medical marijuana program. Initiative 65 is, however, silent on the specific information the MSDH requires from prospective applicants during the application process.
Subsection 3, Section 5 of the Initiative 65 stipulates that intending patients and caregivers must pay a fee of $50 to become participants in the state's medical marijuana program. It further recommends that the MSDH fix reasonable fees payable by licensed medical marijuana treatment centers. Medical marijuana treatment centers are licensed companies involved in producing, processing, and selling medical marijuana and its related supplies.
Prospective qualified patients participating in the state's medical marijuana program need to undergo fresh physicians' certification before submitting applications to renew their identification cards with the MSDH. The cards can only be used for a year. Hence, patients need to undergo evaluation by Mississippi-licensed physicians yearly. This test determines if the debilitating condition that necessitated the patient's participation in the medical marijuana program is still present.
Initiative 65 is currently silent on the documents intending patients must submit during the registration process to become participants in the state's medical marijuana program. However, indications from other states with active medical marijuana programs suggest that the state may request valid government-issued photo IDs alongside the required physicians' certification. These government-issued IDs include:
The details of applicants who submit applications to participate in the state's medical marijuana program are kept confidential by law. Subsection 7, Section 5 of Initiative 65 explicitly states that the MSDH and all licensed medical marijuana treatment centers must protect the personal information of all qualified patients. It further exempts the records of all qualified patients, caregivers, and physicians from those under the Mississippi Public Records Act's jurisdiction. This exemption ensures members of the public do not have unrestricted access to prospective participants' records.
Furthermore, theHealth Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) enacted in 1996 guarantees the confidentiality of medical records. HIPAA's privacy rules prohibit disclosing any patient's identifiable health information without the patient's consent. Entities covered by HIPAA must not disclose these Protected Health Information (PHI) without the subject's consent except for:
Disclosure to the subject
For treatment, payment, or healthcare operation purposes
Disclosure for public interest and national priority. These 12 scenarios fall under the national priority category:
When ordered to be disclosed by law
For public health activities
Victims of domestic violence, abuse or neglect
Judicial and administrative proceedings
Health oversight activities
Law enforcement purposes
Cadaveric organ, eye, or tissue donation
Serious threat to health or safety
Essential government functions
HIPAA does not restrict the disclosure of De-identified Health Information, which refers to information that people cannot use to identify subjects of the health records.
Initiative 65 cannot confirm the information that will appear on the state-issued medical marijuana cards because the program is yet to begin fully. The state is still in the process of setting up regulations and licenses that will guide the state's medical marijuana program.
It is impossible to track participants in Mississippi's medical marijuana program because the law setting it up mandated that patients' records must be kept confidential. These records will not be publicly available, and unauthorized persons cannot access the registry's records.