The Magnolia State said yes to medical marijuana by an overwhelming majority. On the November ballot, more than 70% of voters approved a measure that will allow treatment of more than 20 qualifying conditions with what was once considered an illicit drug. So, what’s next for Mississippi residents and also potential growers?
As it stands currently, patients can start applying for medical marijuana identification cards next summer. Aug. 15, 2021 is the date when the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) will begin issuing identification cards as well as licenses to treatment centers where medical marijuana can be purchased.
A medical ID card could cost up to $50 annually and will be issued to patients with physician-certified debilitating medical conditions such as cancer, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease and others. Doctors will be able to prescribe about 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana every two weeks to card carriers.
By July 1, 2021, MSDH must have all the rules and regulations in place for how to implement the program. It's a tight deadline, especially considering the strain the COVID-19 pandemic has already placed on the agency.
“We are now in the planning stages of the many elements needed to implement a successful medical marijuana program. We have been researching the matter over the last several months and intend to meet the aggressive timeframe of August 15,” said Liz Sharlot, director of communications, MSDH.
What about marijuana growers?
MSDH will also license cannabis growers. As the measure currently reads, the state’s department of agriculture will not be involved in any aspect of medical marijuana. Currently, the health department is not accepting requests for licenses, as a licensing structure has not been established. Sharlot encouraged those interested in receiving a production license to check in with the health department’s website often for the latest updates.
“As we make progress, we will keep the public fully informed. We understand the broad public interest in this program and ask for your patience as we develop the necessary plans to go forward late next summer,” Sharlot said.