Cannabis law is a quickly emerging field of law that requires navigation by professionals acquainted with state regulations. States across the country have started embracing the use of medical marijuana, including Mississippi. In this time of change for Mississippi, look to Hagwood and Tipton’s health care attorneys for questions about cannabis.
Hagwood and Tipton’s health care attorneys are in the unique position to assist clients in navigating this complex area. Our health care attorneys work closely with the Mississippi Board of Medical Licensure, Mississippi Board of Nursing, Mississippi Board of Pharmacy and Mississippi State Department of Health.
When cannabis businesses face challenges with state regulations, Hagwood and Tipton’s health care attorneys are available to provide guidance and advice regarding cannabis law. Physicians, medical clinics, distributors, processing facilities and others can rely on our health care attorneys for skilled and thorough assistance.
If you want to open a medical marijuana center or have questions about what the Mississippi cannabis laws mean for you, Hagwood and Tipton’s health care attorneys can help you sort out what you need.
What to Expect
On Nov. 3, 2020, Mississippi approved medical marijuana through Initiative 65. Initiative 65 stems from a campaign that secured signatures from more than 228,000 Mississippians, and it is supported by doctors, law enforcement, veterans, religious leaders and others who believe those in Mississippi dealing with debilitating medical conditions should have access to medical marijuana.
Under Initiative 65, physicians will be able to certify certain individuals with specific debilitating medical conditions to receive medical marijuana. Twenty-two debilitating medical conditions are listed in Initiative 65, including: cancer, epilepsy, ALS, PTSD, and other conditions for which a physician finds the “benefit of using medical marijuana would reasonably outweigh the health risks.” Through the physician’s certification via an in-person examination, the individual will be able to receive an identification card from the Mississippi Department of Health. Then the individual will present that identification card to a Marijuana Treatment Center to receive 2.5 ounces of marijuana every 14 days. Regulations will be adopted under Initiative 65 by July 2021, and identification cards and business licenses for Marijuana Treatment Centers will be issued by August 2021.
Under Initiative 65, physicians cannot prescribe medical marijuana. Instead, physicians will only certify that a patient has one of the 22 specified debilitating conditions listed in the Initiative. The physician’s decision to issue a certification is based on whether he or she believes the benefits to the patient would outweigh the risks of medical marijuana. Physicians are never required to issue a certification, even if the individual does present with one of the 22 specified conditions. Initiative 65 only gives the option for physicians to issue the certification.
If a physician improperly issues a certification for medical marijuana, he or she would be subject to review from the Mississippi Board of Medical Licensure for not adhering to the appropriate standard of care.
Initiative 65 provides legal protection for physicians who issue certifications for individuals to use medical marijuana. However, as marijuana use is still illegal at the federal level, this complex area of the law is still developing, and Hagwood and Tipton is uniquely situated to work with the Mississippi Board of Medical Licensure, Mississippi Board of Nursing, Mississippi Board of Pharmacy and Mississippi Department of Health to ensure a smooth transition.
Under Initiative 65, only individuals with a specified, debilitating medical condition who have received certification from a physician can use medical marijuana. Once an individual receives a certification from a physician through an in-person examination, they are issued a medical marijuana identification card by the Mississippi Department of Health. This identification card allows qualified individuals to obtain medical marijuana from a licensed Marijuana Treatment Center, and it also protects the individual from civil and criminal sanctions if they encounter police officers.
Marijuana Treatment Centers
Marijuana Treatment Centers are the locations where qualified individuals will be able to purchase marijuana. These centers will be registered with, licensed and regulated by the Mississippi Department of Health. At a Marijuana Treatment Center, the qualified individual will present their identification card to be swiped into the patient database to confirm the patient’s information and the amount of marijuana allowed to be dispensed. The center will then provide counseling through patient advocates, and they will allow the patients to purchase their marijuana.
The Mississippi Department of Health will regulate the required training for Marijuana Treatment Center employees. Hagwood and Tipton is in communication with the Mississippi Department of Health regularly to see when they decide what regulations to hand down to these treatment centers.
With the passage of Initiative 65, the Mississippi Department of Health will likely look to other states’ departments of health to determine regulations for Marijuana Treatment Centers. For example, Mississippi could draw inspiration from Missouri’s Department of Health licensing regulations, which look to the ability to operate as a business in Missouri; the entity not being within 1,000 feet of a school, daycare or church; the relevant experience of the owners; the ability to have a positive economic impact on the community; the location of the facility; and other considerations.
Mississippi’s Department of Health could model it after states like Missouri or develop their own standards for Marijuana Treatment Centers. We will maintain contact with the Mississippi Department of Health to determine what regulations are chosen for Marijuana Treatment Centers.