Medical Marijuana 2020


Frequently Asked Questions 

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how it would work in mississippi

1. What is the process for a qualified patient to obtain medical marijuana treatment?
A qualified patient will be someone who has been examined by a licensed physician in Mississippi for a debilitating medical condition (listed above), and has received a recommendation for medical marijuana treatment from the physician. The qualified patient will then use the physician recommendation to apply for a Medical Marijuana ID Card through the Mississippi Department of Health.

Once the patient has obtained a Medical Marijuana ID Card, they may proceed to obtain treatment from a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center in the state of Mississippi. Medical marijuana will only be dispensed to qualified patients with valid Medical Marijuana ID Cards. 

Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers will confirm the following according to the rules and regulations set by the Mississippi Department of Health:

  • Patient has a valid Medical Marijuana ID Card that is not expired, and
  • Patient has an available allotment to purchase according to the time frame and amount allowed per the state’s regulatory requirements.

2. Will there be an expiration date for the Medical Marijuana ID Cards? What will the process for renewal be? 
Most states’ programs require a renewal annually, while some states allow for two- or three-year renewals. Mississippi will require an annual renewal unless the physician opts for a shorter time period. 

To renew a Medical Marijuana ID Card, patients will need to complete an examination with a physician to determine if a qualifying medical condition is still present. The patient will then apply for a renewal card by submitting the physician recommendation to the Mississippi Department of Health. 

3. What factors determine qualification for a recommendation from a physician?
A physician may only recommend medical marijuana after examining a patient and determining that a patient meets one or more of the allowable diagnoses. A physician's decision to recommend medical marijuana would be the same as when they choose to prescribe any other medication, in which the physician believes the use of medical marijuana could benefit the patient. 

4. Where will medical marijuana be available?
Medical marijuana will only be available at licensed Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers in the state of Mississippi.

5. Who will oversee and regulate Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers in Mississippi?
Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers will be registered with, licensed, and regulated by the Mississippi Department of Health.

6. Are physicians required to recommend medical marijuana?
No. Physicians are not required to recommend medical marijuana just as they are not required to prescribe any other treatment method. This ballot initiative will simply grant physicians the freedom to recommend medical marijuana to patients who may benefit from it.

7. How is the dosage per patient determined?
Dosages will be determined at the Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers. The dosages recommended per patient will vary, and will depend upon the method consumed and the symptoms the patient is wishing to alleviate. 

8. Will there be limits to the amount and frequency that patients can obtain medical marijuana treatment?
Yes. Just as other states that allow the use of medical marijuana have limits regarding the amount and frequency by which patients can obtain treatment, Mississippi will as well. Other states’ limits range from 1 ounce to 8 ounces. In Mississippi, the allotment allowed will be 2.5 ounces every fourteen days, and will be regulated by the Mississippi Department of Health. 

9. Will there be people growing medical marijuana in my neighborhood?
No. Qualified patients may only obtain medical marijuana from a licensed treatment center. Although seventeen of the thirty-one states with medical marijuana programs do allow patients to grow medical marijuana on their own property, Mississippi’s proposal will require medical marijuana patients to purchase medication from licensed and regulated Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers.

10. Will insurance cover the costs of medical marijuana treatment?
No. Insurance is not required to cover the costs of medical marijuana treatment. The cost for medical marijuana treatment will be paid for out of pocket by the patient.

11. Will people under the age of 21 be able to use medical marijuana? Are there side effects for developing children (under age of 18)?
People under the age of twenty-one will be able to use medical marijuana as treatment. There are no proven side effects for developing children under the age of eighteen, but there are many testimonials of the benefits seen in children who have used medical marijuana for treatment of symptoms of approved debilitating medical conditions in other states. 

12. Will Mississippi allow caregivers to help children and elderly patients purchase and take their medical marijuana?
Yes. All states with medical marijuana programs, and Washington D.C., authorize the use of caregivers to assist patients who need help purchasing medical marijuana. Mississippi’s initiative would allow this as well. 

Caregivers would be issued a Medical Marijuana ID Card specifically for caregivers. Caregiver cards will include the patient’s name whom they are authorized to assist. The Caregiver Medical Marijuana ID Card would authorize caregivers to purchase medical marijuana on behalf of the patient and assist the patient with taking their medication. Caregivers can be authorized to care for only one patient. 

13. How will the regulations for this new program be paid for?
The Mississippi Department of Health will provide the upfront costs for implementing the program. It will then be reimbursed, and the program shall also then pay for itself, through Medical Marijuana ID Card application fees and business applications for licenses. 

14. How much will it cost to apply for a Medical Marijuana ID Card? 
The initial cost will be $50 to apply for a Medical Marijuana ID Card; it will be the same for renewal Medical Marijuana ID Cards. This cost applies for all Medical Marijuana ID Cards, regardless of type (patient, caregiver…etc.). 

15. What is a medical marijuana business?
A Medical Marijuana business is any business that has applied for and received a license from the Mississippi Department of Health to cultivate, process, test, or sell medical marijuana.
his may include:

  • Cultivation facilities (agricultural greenhouses where the plant is grown and harvested) 
  • Testing facilities where the products are scientifically tested and approved
  • Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers where the products are sold to patients

What does medical research say?

16. What are the healthcare benefits of medical marijuana treatment for patients with debilitating medical conditions?
Studies and testimonials show that patients have found relief from symptoms of debilitating medical conditions when treated with medical marijuana; hence, improving quality of life. 

A few examples include: eliminating or significantly lessening seizures, inflammation, muscle spasticity, agitation of dementia symptoms, opioid dependence, severe nausea related to cancer treatment, and pain from nerve damage and other debilitating medical conditions. 

Additionally, according to the American Cancer Society

  • A number of small studies of smoked medical marijuana found that it can be helpful in treating nausea and vomiting from cancer chemotherapy.
  • A few studies have found that inhaled (smoked or vaporized) medical marijuana can be helpful treatment of neuropathic pain (pain caused by damaged nerves).
  • Smoked medical marijuana has also helped improve food intake in HIV patients in studies.
  • Studies have long shown that people who took medical marijuana extracts in clinical trials tended to need less pain medicine.
  • More recently, scientists reported that THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD slow growth and/or cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in lab dishes. Some animal studies also suggest certain cannabinoids may slow growth and reduce the spread of some forms of cancer.
  • There have been some early clinical trials of cannabinoids in treating cancer in humans and more studies are planned. While the studies so far have shown that cannabinoids can be safe in treating cancer, they do not show that they help control or cure the disease.

17. How does medical marijuana affect the opioid crisis in America?
A study by JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) shows that opioid overdoses are as much as 25% lower in states where medical marijuana has been made available as an alternative to opioids compared with states without medical marijuana laws. 

There are no reported deaths from a marijuana overdose; however, prescription-opioid overdoses continue to climb. 

18. Why isn’t there more research regarding use of medical marijuana?
In order to perform the research needed to prove the benefits of medical marijuana in a way that is FDA approved, scientists would have to possess the plant, which is illegal under federal law. The biggest hurdle to performing rigorous, scientific research into the benefits of medical marijuana is the fact that it continues to be classified as a Schedule I substance by the federal government, which states that it has no medical benefits. 

The American Medical Association is just one of many groups that are calling for a reclassification to Schedule II, which would open the door for more research to be performed and would acknowledge the drug’s medical benefits.

Marijuana is one of the only Schedule I drugs that the federal government does not allow to be produced for research by private labs. There is only one facility in the country that has a contract to grow marijuana for research (located in Mississippi).

The federal government requires FDA approval to take marijuana off the Schedule I list; yet, it will not allow the research necessary for the FDA to approve reclassification – even though public opinion has significantly turned regarding the acceptance of medical marijuana. 

What are other states doing?

19. What other states have legalized medical marijuana? 
A total of thirty-one states and Washington, D.C. have made medical marijuana available (fifteen through ballot initiatives, and sixteen through legislative action), allowing approximately 2.2 million Americans with a proper diagnosis to have access. These include: 

Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Washington D.C., West Virginia

More states will be voting on medical marijuana initiatives soon; specifically, Utah voters in November 2018 and Missouri voters in 2019. 

20. On average, how many people in each state become medical marijuana patients? 
For the states with medical marijuana programs, the numbers range from between 0.01% to 3.15% of each states’ respective total population. For example, Arizona’s total population is approximately seven million people and there are approximately 153,000 patients enrolled in its medical marijuana program, which is 2.2% of the total population. 

21. What type of medical marijuana treatments are included in other states’ programs? 
Medical marijuana treatment can be offered in varying forms, some of which include beverages, topicals, suppositories, transdermal patches, tinctures and sub-lingual sprays (liquid extracts), fresh plant juices or smoothies, smoking, vaporizing, edibles, capsules, lozenges, creams, topicals, and ointments. 

Offering treatment in multiple forms allows patients to utilize their treatment in the way that works best for them. Certain methods get into the bloodstream more quickly, therefore providing immediate relief, while other forms may take longer to enter the bloodstream but may provide longer-lasting relief. The preferred method will depend upon patients’ preferences for ingestion, and the type of pain and symptoms they wish to alleviate.  

22. What has been the experience of other states that have made medical marijuana available? 
No state that has made medical marijuana available has repealed it. Medical marijuana patients report reduced pain and symptoms of their debilitating medical conditions and increased quality of life. 

23. What has been the experience of doctors in other states?
Doctors who have recommended medical marijuana for qualifying medical conditions in other states have experienced overwhelmingly good reports from their patients. Additionally, there is continually more education material and opportunities, including conferences and continuing education courses, being made available for physicians regarding the benefits of medical marijuana. 

24. How are medical marijuana programs regulated in other states? 
Every state and Washington D.C.’s programs:

  • are implemented and regulated by each state’s and Washington D.C.’s respective Department of Health
  • require Medical Marijuana ID Cards to identify patients approved to purchase medical marijuana
  • authorizes the use of caregivers to assist patients who need help purchasing and using medical marijuana (i.e. a caregiver for an elderly person or a child)
  • require a physician examination and recommendation before a patient is authorized to obtain a Medical Marijuana ID Card and then purchase medical marijuana 
  • requires a renewal of the physician recommendation and the Medical Marijuana ID Card to keep the patient status current (most programs require a renewal annually, while some states allow for two or three years. Mississippi will require an annual renewal unless the physician chooses a shorter time period)
  • regulate and provide licenses to the businesses that produce and dispense medical marijuana to qualifying patients
  • regulate the amount of medical marijuana that can be sold to patients within the allowable time period


25. What is the medical marijuana 2020 ballot initiative?
This initiative, which would be on the November 2020 general election ballot as a proposed amendment to the Mississippi State Constitution, would allow patients with certain debilitating medical conditions to use medical marijuana to relieve pain and other symptoms and effects of those conditions.  

26. What do doctors in Mississippi think about this initiative, and who else is backing this initiative?
This initiative is backed by a variety of physicians and medical organizations, as well as law enforcement representatives, veterans, and church leaders in Mississippi. Click here to see this initiative’s Steering Committee. 

27. What is a ballot initiative?
Mississippi’s ballot initiative law allows citizens to directly amend the State Constitution. The ballot initiative process itself is set forth in the Mississippi State Constitution. For an initiative to be placed on the ballot, a minimum of 86,185 certified signatures must be gathered with at least 17,237 certified signatures from each of the five congressional districts as they existed in the year 2000. The signatures must be certified by county circuit clerks.

28. What is medical marijuana?
Medical marijuana is state regulated marijuana that is obtained from a licensed treatment center in Mississippi and is used by a patient to treat a debilitating medical condition.  This proposal only authorizes the use of medical marijuana that is obtained from a licensed treatment center, and is regulated and tested for safety.  

29. Why is this ballot initiative important?

  • It will provide Mississippians with qualifying debilitating medical conditions the ability to access medical marijuana treatment locally within the state of Mississippi without forcing them to travel or move out of state in order to obtain treatment for themselves or their families.
  • It will provide additional options to physicians, allowing them greater freedom to recommend more comprehensive treatment plans for their patients.
  • Medical marijuana has medicinal properties that can improve quality of life, treat, and in some cases eliminate, symptoms of illnesses in ways that are more effective in some situations than traditional, prescribed medicine. 
  • Medical marijuana is a much safer alternative to opioids for pain management. It can be used in place of opioids, or in conjunction with opioids (i.e. in some cases, medical marijuana can be used to manage ongoing pain, and if needed an opioid for severe breakthrough pain). Additionally, opioid overdoses are as much as 25% lower in states where medical marijuana is available as an alternative to opioids.
  • Veterans now account for 20% of all suicides in the United States. 18-22 veterans commit suicide every day, many of them suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Medical marijuana is a safe and effective treatment to assist veterans in managing the debilitating symptoms and effects of PTSD.

30. Who will be helped by allowing medical marijuana in Mississippi?
Patients who suffer from a range of debilitating medical conditions and serious illnesses.  

31. What debilitating medical conditions will be covered? 
Debilitating medical conditions include cancer, epilepsy or other seizures, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cachexia, post-traumatic stress disorder, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, chronic or debilitating pain, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, glaucoma, agitation of Alzheimer's dementias, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, Sickle-Cell Anemia, autism with aggressive or self-injurious behaviors, pain refractory to appropriate opioid dependence management, spinal cord disease or severe injury, intractable nausea, severe muscle spasticity, or another medical condition of the same kind or class for which a physician believes the use of medical marijuana may be beneficial.

Why it's important in Mississippi

32. What is the history of medical marijuana efforts in Mississippi?
CBD Oil was signed into law by Governor Phil Bryant in 2014. A little girl named Harper Grace was the face of the debate over cannabis oil in Mississippi. Harper Grace has Dravet syndrome, a type of epilepsy that causes violent seizures. In other states, children like Harper Grace have used cannabis oil extract to fight the seizures. 

However, Harper Grace has yet to receive her first dose of cannabis oil from Mississippi. Harper Grace’s Law said UMMC is the only place that is allowed to distribute or conduct clinical trials on cannabis oil extract. But because the hospital needs federal approval to do it, UMMC officials claim that they are bogged down in federal paperwork. 

After Harper Grace’s Law was signed but still had not been made available, legislation was introduced three years in a row that would have allowed chronically ill patients with certain medical conditions to safely and legally access and use medical marijuana with a doctor’s approval, which would have also allowed Harper Grace to receive her medicine. It has been voted down each time. 


33. Is medical marijuana a “gateway” drug that will lead patients to try stronger drugs and increase addiction issues?
There are many people who have experienced and used medical marijuana a number of times for its many medical and therapeutic benefits without being inspired to progress to dangerous narcotics like cocaine and heroin. In fact, medical marijuana is increasingly being recognized as a tool to help addicts reduce dependence and get off of dangerous drugs such as opioids. 

34. Will taking this step eventually lead to legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Mississippi?
No. This is a healthcare initiative for people suffering from debilitating medical conditions and serious illnesses; this initiative advocates only for the use of medical marijuana. Only nine states and Washington D.C. have legalized adult use of recreational marijuana. Those include Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Nevada, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Washington D.C. 

35. Is allowing the use of medical marijuana supported by law enforcement?
Law enforcement organizations and officials in Minnesota, Vermont, Illinois, Vermont, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Maine, and Nevada have supported medical marijuana and acknowledged that the medical marijuana laws in their respective states have not caused problems. In fact, this Medical Marijuana 2020 ballot initiative is backed by members or former members of law enforcement here in the state of Mississippi.

36. Have states with medical marijuana programs seen an increase or decrease in teen marijuana use?
Legalizing medical marijuana has been shown to result in decreased teen marijuana use. Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine found that the rates of marijuana use by young people are falling as more states are making medical marijuana available and are decriminalizing its use. A study from the Centers for Disease Control found that marijuana use in the United States decreased by 17%, from 15.8% in 2002 to 13.1% in 2014, among kids ages twelve to seventeen. 

37. How will the availability of medical marijuana affect drivers and the overall rate of fatalities caused by driving under the influence?
The laws are the same for medical marijuana as for any other medication. If a driver is found to be operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of any substance, normal law enforcement procedures would be applied. However, there is significant research that shows states with medical marijuana programs have seen a decrease in traffic fatalities. 

An American Journal of Public Health study examined data in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System over nearly three decades to determine the relationship between fatal traffic accidents and medical marijuana programs. States with medical marijuana programs showed lower rates of traffic fatalities than states without them.

38. What if a child accidentally accesses a piece of medical marijuana candy, or another form of an edible, and consumes it thinking it was a normal piece of food?
The Department of Health will set forth the guidelines and requirements related to the labeling and packaging of medical marijuana products. Additionally, as with any medication, it is recommended that medical marijuana products be stored in a safe place out of the reach of children. 

39. What would be the punishment/consequence for obtaining medical marijuana illegally?
Illegally obtaining medical marijuana as an unqualified patient would result in criminal or civil sanctions by law enforcement. The Medical Marijuana Treatment Center would be accountable to the laws and regulations set forth by the Mississippi Department of Health.

40. Are there warnings or side effects; how are these monitored?
As with most other medicines/treatments, if a patient consumes more than the recommended dosage, they will not feel well. However, a benefit to using medical marijuana in place of some other treatments is that patients are unable to overdose on medical marijuana. While they may not feel well if too much is taken, they will not die from it as they can with opioids. Doses can be discussed by the patient and their doctor as well as the Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers.

41. Will patients who use medical marijuana get "high" or become “intoxicated?”
The two main cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Some medical conditions are helped by simply using a CBD only type, while other medical conditions respond better to a compound including a ratio of CBD and THC. Different strains or types can have varying amounts of these, which means that the medicine can have different effects based on the strain used.

Patients may feel effects of their medication as they would with any other medication; however, this is dependent upon the strain and the amount consumed, as well as how each patient responds to the treatment. The benefit of medical marijuana is that all dosages are clearly labeled and explained as medication in a pharmacy would be, which allows patients to use the medicine in the most effective ways.

Additionally, the goal for medical patients is not to get “high.” If someone is seeking to get “high,” they would be labeled as a recreational user, not a medical marijuana patient with a qualifying debilitating medical condition. Medical marijuana patients are seeking relief from debilitating medical conditions so that their quality of life can be made better, and they are willing to adhere to right process as it is made available to them to do so.

42. Does the dosage need to increase at any point in order to remain effective?
It is possible depending on the patient and the severity of their condition; however, it could also decrease as well. For a cancer patient suffering from chemo-related nausea, if the chemo treatments were to increase, the patient would most likely want to also increase the amount of medical marijuana to offset the increase of chemo. The dosage amount should be determined on per-person basis.

43. Is marijuana more harmful than alcohol and tobacco?
Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco. Alcohol and tobacco are legal, yet they are known to cause cancer, heart failure, liver damage, and more. According to the Centers for Disease Control, six people die from alcohol poisoning every day and 88,000 people die annually due to excessive alcohol use in the United States. There are no recorded cases of death from marijuana overdose. Additionally, there are no recorded cases of lung cancer attributed to smoking marijuana.