Jackson, Ms. Mississippi legalizes medical marijuana for people with debilitating conditions such as cancer, AIDS, and sickle cell disease.
Republican Governor Tate Reeves signed the legislation into law on Wednesday and it became law immediately. It could be months before the first marijuana dispensaries open.
“There is no doubt that there are individuals in our state who could do much better if they received prescription doses of cannabis,” Reeves wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “There are also those who really want a recreational marijuana program that can lead to more people smoking and fewer people working, with all the societal and family ills that that causes.”
The National Conference of State Legislatures says 36 states and four territories have already permitted the medicinal use of cannabis. Mississippi became the 37th state.
A majority of Mississippi voters approved a medical marijuana initiative in November 2020, which would have allowed people to buy up to 5 ounces a month. The state Supreme Court overturned it six months later by ruling that the state initiative process was outdated and that the procedure was not properly placed on the ballot.
The state and Senate, both controlled by Republicans, passed the final version of Senate Bill 2095 last week.
The new law will allow patients to buy up to 3.5 grams of cannabis per day, for up to six days a week. That’s about 3 ounces per month. It establishes taxes on the production and sale of hemp, and specifies that plants must be grown indoors under controlled conditions.
Because of the reduction from 5 ounces per month in the initiative to 3 ounces per month in the new law, “there will be hundreds of millions of fewer joints on the streets because of this improvement,” Reeves said.
The new law prohibits the state from providing incentives for the economic development of the cannabis industry. The state often provides tax breaks and financial assistance for roads or water access to industrial sites.
The law gives cities and counties 90 days to choose not to allow medical marijuana facilities to grow or sell. However, people in those communities can petition for elections to overrule and allow local officials to decide.
Clint Patterson is CEO of Mockingbird Cannabis, which plans to operate in the state. He said cannabis products can ease pain and suffering.
“We look forward to serving the citizens of Mississippi as they strive to improve their health and quality of life through the responsible use of cannabis,” Patterson said in a statement.