Mississippi is one step closer to medical marijuana after the secretary of state’s office officially qualified Ballot Initiative 65 for the November, 2020 ballot. 

Last fall, Mississippians for Compassionate Care, the organization that had been collecting signatures for the initiative, submitted 105,686 certified signatures of registered voters to the secretary of state. Since that time, the secretary of state’s office has been confirming that the requirements have been met. 

Medical marijuana is currently legal in 33 states, with Missouri, Oklahoma, and Utah adopting ballot initiatives in 2018. In 2019, legislatures in Georgia and Texas approved medical marijuana, though the rollout has not been finalized in either state. 

What would medical marijuana look like in Mississippi?

If the ballot initiative is approved by voters in November, marijuana would be legal for those with a debilitating medical condition and would have to be authorized by a physician and receive it from a licensed treatment center.

Some of these conditions include:

  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy and other seizure-related ailments
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • HIV
  • AIDS
  • Chronic pain
  • ALS
  • Glaucoma
  • Chrohn’s disease
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Autism with aggressive or self-harming behavior
  • Spinal cord injuries

If a physician concludes that a person suffers from a debilitating medical condition and that the use of medical marijuana may mitigate the symptoms or effects of the condition, the physician may certify the person to use medical marijuana by issuing a form as prescribed by the Mississippi Board of Health. The issuance of this form is defined in the proposal as a “physician certification” and is valid for 12 months, unless the physician specifies a shorter period of time.

That individual then becomes a qualified patient. After they do this, they present the physician certification to the Mississippi Department of Health and are issued a medical marijuana identification card. The ID card allows the patient to obtain medical marijuana from a licensed and regulated treatment center and protects the patient from civil and/or criminal sanctions in the event the patient is confronted by law enforcement officers. “Shopping” among multiple treatment centers is prevented through the use of a real-time database and online access system maintained by the Mississippi Department of Health.

The Mississippi Department of Health would regulate the cultivation of marijuana, processing, and being made available to patients. There would also be limits on how much marijuana a patient could obtain.