Draft Medical Cannabis Bill Requires Doctor-Patient Relationship, Establishes Seed-to-Sale Tracking System 

Published 2:12 pm Monday, September 27, 2021

Jackson, Miss.–Legislation requiring state agencies to stand up a medical cannabis program in Mississippi within 60 days of passage is in draft form and ready for consideration.

Senator Kevin Blackwell (R-Southaven), who has been the point person in the Mississippi Senate on medical cannabis, Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann, and Speaker Philip Gunn have worked with colleagues, citizens, state agencies, policy experts, healthcare professionals, and industry professionals for months to develop the draft.

“As soon as the Mississippi Supreme Court’s decision came down, Senator Blackwell began working on a medical cannabis program which would reflect the will of the people and provide some of the critical components the Constitutional initiative did not anticipate,” Lt. Governor Hosemann said. “Under this program, Mississippians who have debilitating medical conditions which could be relieved by or treated with medical cannabis will have access.”

A majority of Mississippi voters approved a medical cannabis program in the State in November 2020 through Initiative 65, a Constitutional initiative. The program was immediately challenged in the courts. During the 2021 Legislative Session, the Mississippi Senate attempted three times to pass legislation authored by Blackwell establishing a program in the event the court challenge to Initiative 65 was successful. The legislation did not survive, and the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Initiative 65 invalid in May 2021, prompting the legislative work on this new program.

Highlights of the draft legislation include:

  • Allowing medical cannabis use for all the conditions listed in Initiative 65, as well as hepatitis, Alzheimer’s disease, and spastic quadriplegia;
  • Allowing physicians, nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, and optometrists to certify a patient’s use of medical cannabis;
  • Requiring a bona fide doctor-patient relationship for the issuance of a 12-month medical cannabis certification, and requiring a 6-month follow-up visit;
  • Requiring the Mississippi Departments of Revenue, Health, and Agriculture and Commerce to share in the responsibility of overseeing the program, including a seed-to-sale tracking program;
  • Allowing “micro-cultivators” and “micro-processors” with lower licensing fees, in addition to larger scale operations, to encourage wide participation;
  • Allowing local governments to exercise reasonable zoning laws related to the location of medical cannabis facilities; and
  • Allowing local governments to opt-out of the program within 90 days, and allowing citizens to overrule such a decision through a referendum process.

The Mississippi Legislature is not currently authorized to convene until January 2022, but could consider the legislation earlier in a Special Session called by the Governor.  Legislative leadership has notified the Governor’s staff of the draft legislation, and they plan to meet with the Governor about next steps next week.

To learn more about Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann, visit www.ltgovhosemann.ms.gov.