Last Update: April 15, 2015
Hope on the horizon for Mississippi
In 2014, along with a slew of other traditionally conservative states, Mississippi passed a law allowing for the limited use of certain types of medical marijuana. This law provides an affirmative defense to individuals suffering from debilitating seizure disorders for the use and possession of high-CBD, low-THC cannabis extracts. While this measure only protects a tiny number of the patients who could benefit from medical marijuana, it is a step in the right direction. For more information about this new law, check out our summary here.
Since 1968, Ole Miss has been the sole producer of federally legal marijuana in the United States. Yet, university researchers can expect the same slow, multi-year approval process that has prevented trials from going forward for decades. Even those trials that manage to be approved tend to be small-scale and short-term. Please ask your legislators to support a comprehensive medical marijuana program next year.
Each month, under the government’s Compassionate Investigational New Drug program, federal authorities send four patients a tin canister filled with about 300 pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes, filled with marijuana grown at Ole Miss. If the federal government can grow medical marijuana for out-of-state patients in Mississippi, why can't Mississippi's seriously ill patients access the medicine they need?
Meanwhile, the Mississippi Alliance for Cannabis is not waiting for the legislature to act. They are working hard to collect more than 100,000 signatures for Ballot Initiative 48 by October 2, 2015. If the initiative qualifies for the ballot, voters in Mississippi will decide in the 2016 general election whether to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adults.
Did you know Mississippi is a "decrim" state?
Mississippi is one of the 19 states that have decriminalized — or, in four cases, legalized — personal use marijuana possession. First offense possession of 30 grams (a little more than an ounce) is punishable by a $250 fine instead of jail time and a civil summons as opposed to arrest, as long as the offender provides proof of identity and a written promise to appear in court.
Unfortunately, new evidence suggests that Mississippi’s marijuana laws are not being evenly enforced. A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that although blacks and whites use marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in Mississippi are 3.9 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.
Please write your state legislators to ask them to end marijuana prohibition in the state and replace it with a taxed and regulated system, as Colorado, Washington state, Alaska, and Oregon have done.
To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Mississippi, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s free legislative alert service.