Mississippi to launch medical cannabis sales by the summer

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Within the next five months, the medical cannabis market in Mississippi will be in full swing. The green plant was legalized statewide following the passing of a voter-approved ballot initiative during the November elections.

Now, the latest update promises that licenses will be awarded to individuals and companies that are intent on participating in the new market by August 15, 2021. Once licenses have been distributed among lucky applicants, the medical cannabis market in Mississippi can officially commence.

Rules and framework will be published by the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH), which will be responsible for regulating the industry. Although a regulatory plan has not yet been hashed out by the Department, it is expected to be drawn up imminently.

Head of the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association (3MA), Ken Newburger, applauded the decision to put MSDH in charge of regulation. Newburger’s Association started accepting membership applications at the end of last year. 

“Because it’s a medical program and everything about it needs to be handled from a health medicine perspective, the State Department of Health was the best choice. Most other states that have good, functioning medical cannabis programs chose the State Department of Health as their regulatory body. So that’s really why we felt like it was the right place,” said Newburger.

Soon, the association is expected to host its first ever convention focused on medical cannabis. However, due to social distancing measures that have been imposed since the coronavirus pandemic erupted, the convention will be virtual.

Opponents attempt to rescind vote that legalized medical cannabis in Mississippi

If anti-cannabis lobbyists get their way, all of the hard work that has gone into legalizing medical cannabis in Mississippi will go to waste. Why? Because two medical associations are fueling a lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of a ballot initiative that Mississippi voters approved back in November.

According to the opponents of whom are members of the American Medical Association (AMA) and its state affiliate, the Mississippi State Medical Association (MSMA) a medical cannabis market in Mississippi creates “risks to public health” and places a “burden” on physicians. 

Acting as amicus curiae in the case, both of the anti-cannabis groups chose to support and assist the court with the legal challenge, which was initially filed by the city of Madison days prior to the election. Based on the details of the lawsuit, Mississippi’s medical cannabis proposal is invalid, since state law commands that each district collect an adequate percentage of signatures for the ballot initiative to qualify.

Opponents continue fight against medical cannabis in Mississippi, but research indicates plant’s potential

AMA and MSMA continue to back the aforementioned legal challenge, despite the fact that Mississippi’s secretary of state and attorney general have described the argument as “woefully untimely”. 

“Making sure the constitutional amendment map is followed is always important, but given the nature of the initiative at issue and the substantial ramifications it poses for Mississippi’s public health and the medical community, particular care is warranted here,” reads an excerpt from the brief. 

“While it is possible there may be beneficial medicinal uses of cannabis, numerous evidence-based studies demonstrate that significant deleterious effects abound,” the brief continues, adding that, “without question, the public health risks are immense.”

Nonetheless, a growing field of research says something different. Many studies, such as this one on cannabis for chronic pain and this one on cannabis for multiple sclerosis, demonstrate the medical safety and efficacy of the plant. 

Plus, now that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has announced it will be pushing forward with cannabis research applications, we are likely to see more proof of the plant’s therapeutic powers in the foreseeable future.