Mississippi’s history with cannabis has been complicated, with moments of uncertainty and confusion, but not without hope for patients with debilitating medical conditions. In 1968, the University of Mississippi was the first facility in our nation to win a federal contract with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), allowing the growth of cannabis for standardized research. This project, called the Marijuana Project, continues today, over 50 years later. The University of Mississippi reapplies every few years to continue the contract and has successfully followed the rigorous federal protocol established by the DEA to remain approved to grow and distribute cannabis for research. In 2016, the DEA announced it would authorize other nationwide facilities for the same privilege of cultivation of cannabis for research purposes. In 2021, it finally selected additional applicants for conditional acceptance to follow suit behind the Marijuana Project at the University of Mississippi.
Marijuana possession and use in Mississippi has been decriminalized since 1978 for first-time offenders possessing up to 30 grams. Possession of more significant amounts, or those found to be cultivating and selling without proper licensing, can still earn a felony conviction in 2022. In 2014, Harper Grace’s Act was signed into law, allowing CBD (cannabidiol, a less intoxicating or psychoactive compound of cannabis) to be obtained only by patients with debilitating epilepsy, only with a doctor’s prescription, only from one of three research centers in the state, administered under a doctor's supervision. Since then, legislators have gradually come to terms with legalizing CBD products in our state. Legislation in 2017 expanded the use of CBD for medical conditions beyond seizures, and in 2019, CBD officially became legal for all citizens. In December 2018, a clinical study at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson (UMMC) began looking at the effects of CBD on juvenile epilepsy - with CBD extract from Project Marijuana from UM. In 2020, the majority of Mississippi voters elected statewide on a measure called Initiative 65 to allow medical marijuana to become legal in the state. The effort was ultimately deemed void by the Mississippi Supreme Court on a technicality with the ballot process.
During the 2022 legislative season, Senate Bill 2095, known as the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act, was successfully passed and signed into law by Mississippi’s governor. The bill allows qualifying patients to register for a medical cannabis card under the supervision of a certifying practitioner. It also allows businesses to cultivate, process, dispense, transport, and research cannabis appropriate for medical purposes. For more information about qualifying for the Medical Cannabis Program in Mississippi, check out this blog or go here.
At River Remedy, we’re excited to be a part of making history in Mississippi. We’re grateful for the chance to provide much-needed alternatives for patients with long-deserved better treatments. And we’re proud to contribute to the economy of the state we call home.