Though all forms of recreational cannabis are illegal in Mississippi, possession has been decriminalized, and the state has a rudimentary medical marijuana program that permits certain CBD products with minimal THC.
Possession of small quantities of cannabis for personal use only was decriminalized in Mississippi back in 1978. However, little to no subsequent progress has been made with regard to recreational legalization.
New legislation introduced in 2014 legalized the use of low-THC/high-CBD products for qualifying patients with severe seizure disorders. Though the medical cannabis framework of Mississippi remains restricted exclusively to CBD oils that have passed rigorous tests carried out by the state itself.
Mississippi’s policy on recreational cannabis is relatively simple and unlikely to change in the near future at least. In 2020, all forms of recreational marijuana are illegal, though first-time possession offences with small amounts on your person are no longer punishable by imprisonment.
Possession of 30g or less is a first offence that carries a maximum citation of $250. However, get caught a second time with the same small quantity on you and you’ll be looking at up to 60 days in jail. For a third offense, the fine is increased to $1000 and you could be locked up for as long as six months.
Where larger quantities are concerned, things become disproportionately extreme. As a first offence, possession of between 30g and 250g of weed could see you jailed for up to three years, while carrying up to 500g could result in eight years of jail time. Anything over 1kg and you can be locked up for maximum of 25 years, while 5kg or more and you’re behind bars for up to 30 years.
It’s worth noting at this point that with just 250g of cannabis in your possession for personal use, you’re looking at a mandatory minimum two-year sentence.
Mississippi also prohibits the sale and possession of pot paraphernalia, which even as a first offence is good for up to six months in jail and a fine of $500.
Medical Marijuana Mississippi
In the traditional sense, medical marijuana is not legal in Mississippi. To date, no laws have been passed to enable patients on a widespread basis to access medical buds.
The introduction of House Bill 1231 in April 2014 effectively legalized the strictly limited use of approved therapeutic pot products, though with heavy restrictions placed on potency and cannabinoid content.
Available exclusively to patients diagnosed with a severe form of epilepsy, low-THC cannabis oil may be recommended by an authorized physician. In all instances, the cannabis oil must contain no more than 0.5% THC and at least 15% CBD, rendering any psychoactive influence entirely null.
The state’s medical marijuana policy also indicates “the CBD oil must be obtained from or tested by the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi and dispensed by the Department of Pharmacy Services at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.”
Who Qualifies for Medicinal Marijuana in Mississippi?
Only those diagnosed with a severe and debilitating epileptic condition are considered eligible for CBD in Mississippi. While there are no specific age restrictions placed on the use of CBD oil for those affected, no other conditions are considered eligible.
However, it’s possible that the state’s medical cannabis program will be extended and loosened significantly as of 2021. Two versions of a medical cannabis amendment - Initiative 65 and Alternative 65A – are set to be put to the vote in November 2020, which would extend eligibility for medical marijuana to all patients deemed to have a debilitating condition who could potentially benefit from its use.
A total of 22 qualifying medical conditions have so far been added to the proposed legislation, which would also make it legal for patients to carry up to 2.5oz of therapeutic cannabis on their person. State-licensed manufacturers would also be established to produce pharmaceutical-grade gagnja which would then be prescribed and used exclusively under the supervision of licensed pharmacists and physicians.
Recent polls indicate strong support for the new medical marijuana proposal among Mississippi residents, though the bill is likely to face strong opposition along the way.
Resistance to Legalization
Despite the fact that possession of small quantities of cannabis was decriminalized in Mississippi over 40 years ago, the state’s wider cannabis policy remains horrendously outdated. Steps are slowly being taken towards a credible and accessible medical pot framework, but the same cannot be said for recreational weed.
As it stands, there’s no indication that Mississippi intends to reverse or even soften its approach to punishing recreational users.