Regulators in Mississippi began accepting applications for medical marijuana identification cards last week, four months after Governor Tate Reeves signed a compromise bill to legalize the medicinal use of cannabis. The Mississippi State Department of Health began accepting applications for patient and caregiver medical marijuana identification cards on June 1, the same day the agency began the certification process for healthcare providers and cannabis businesses to participate in the program.
On Monday, Kris Jones Adcock, director of the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Program (MMCP), said that the department received approximately 1,800 applications for medical marijuana certification on the first day, with about 85 percent of the applications coming from patients.
Before they can receive their medical card, patients must be diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition by a registered practitioner who believes that medical cannabis will help the patient’s condition or symptoms. Practitioners will then submit an online patient certification, which is valid for 12 months unless a shorter time period is specified.
“The required practitioner written certification will be completed by the practitioner through an online submission no greater than 60 days prior to the patient’s application to participate in the medical cannabis program,”
Once the application is submitted, program patients will be approved for the program within five days, according to the health department.
Mississippi Applications for Practitioners Also Open
State officials also began accepting applications from physicians, nurse practitioners and optometrists to become certified practitioners in Mississippi’s new medical marijuana program. Ken Newburger, executive director of the cannabis industry trade group the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association, said that patients will have to continue waiting before they can access the medicine they need. The state’s voters approved a ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana in the 2020 general election, but the initiative was struck down months last year by the Mississippi Supreme Court.
“Physicians and practitioners are still getting their side done,”
Medical marijuana cultivators, manufacturers and dispensaries will also have to get up and running before patients will have legal access to medicinal cannabis. Jim Craig, the health department’s senior deputy and director of health protection, told reporters, “It looks like it will probably be the end of the year before we’ll see product in the dispensaries in Mississippi.”
“This is a brand new program and I know everyone would love for it to be fully up and operational, but there is a time period where the cultivators and processors actually grow the product,” Craig added. “Businesses have to get established, they have to hire and they have to get crops in the ground. They will need to be products that are approved and tested in Mississippi.”
All medical marijuana must be grown in secure facilities located in Mississippi by cultivators that have been authorized by the state. Newburger said that the process of building the cannabis industry’s infrastructure seems to be going well.
“Larger facilities seem to be very much underway. People across the state are building their actual physical structures. Once the cultivation regulations dropped about a week ago, people really started moving forward,” Newburger said. “Now that they have that and they can move forward on their building plans, they’re also submitted. So things from the business perspective are going pretty smoothly.”
But he noted that prospective operators have to find a location that complies with the state’s regulations for medical marijuana businesses.
“It’s very hard to find land. We’ve got searches all over the state,” Newburger said. “And so to be compliant with that 1,000-foot distance, it’s just hard to find a place for a dispensary. But people are finding them.”
More information about Mississippi’s requirements for a medical marijuana card, including the list of qualifying medical conditions,