On November 3, 2020, 69% of Mississippi voters cast their ballots in favor of enacting a medical cannabis program. On that same ballot, 74% voted for a broad program — Initiative 65 — while rejecting a far more restrictive alternative lawmakers had placed on the ballot, Initiative 65A. Subsequently, the state Supreme Court found that the state’s signature requirements for ballot measures could not be complied with and threw out not only Initiative 65, but also the entire state’s ballot initiative process.
On January 26, 2022, the Mississippi Legislature gave its final approval to the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act (SB 2095), sponsored by Sen. Kevin Blackwell, to restore voters’ will by creating a medical cannabis program. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed the bill into law on February 2, 2022.
SB 2095 reflects an attempt to create a middle ground between the extremely restrictive approach some legislators and the governor favor and voters’ strong preference for a broad measure. The Senate passed SB 2095 in a 46-5 vote on January 13 and the House followed suit with a 104-14 vote on January 19, after making a few amendments. The two chambers formed a conference committee to reconcile the bills and signed off on the final versions in landslide votes of 103-13 in the House and 46-4 (with one abstention) in the Senate.
Unlike Initiative 65, SB 2095 would force pain patients to try opiates and other risky treatments before cannabis. It also includes extreme continuing medical education requirements for certifying practitioners, which will significantly depress participation, and other restrictive provisions. However, in some other important ways — including by allowing raw cannabis and not capping business licenses — SB 2095 is consistent with Initiative 65.
Here are key provisions of SB 2095.
Qualifying for the Program
To qualify, patients must have at least one qualifying medical condition and a written certification issued by a healthcare practitioner with whom they have a bona fide relationship. Patients must also apply to the health department (MDOH) for a registration card, which costs $25 (or less in some cases).
The bill’s qualifying conditions are:
Possession and Purchase Limits
Medical Cannabis Businesses
Local Control and Bans
Taxation and Fees