The Mississippi Legislature approved changes to the state’s medical marijuana (MMJ) law with the aim of limiting public access to citation records of cannabis businesses and resolving discrepancies among agencies overseeing the new MMJ program.
The bill, recently approved by the House, was amended by a Senate committee and then passed by the full Senate. It now needs the signature of Governor Tate Reeves to be added to the existing law.
The changes introduced by the bill include minor language adjustments as well as new provisions regarding background checks and public records, reported Mississippi Today.
The Bill And What’s Next?
Lawmakers added a new provision to the state’s Medical Cannabis Act that prevents any state agency, political subdivision or board from enforcing any rule, regulation, policy or requirement that contradicts the provisions in the act.
Other changes include shortening the Mississippi Department of Health’s approval period for card applications to 10 days and allowing patients to see a different doctor for follow-ups without disrupting their care or access to MMJ.
Dispensaries can now sell hemp products, including low-THC products like CBD and topical products for patrons over 21 who do not have an MMJ card. These products must be displayed separately from products for cardholders.
The Health Department can contract with private laboratories for compliance testing, but those labs cannot also perform commercial testing for MMJ businesses. However, the bill also incorporates a mistake made by the Health Department into the law.
The State’s Health Department Inconsistencies
The MMJ program, which involves selling cannabis grown in the state, has been functional for nearly three months, but there have been some problems along the way.
An investigation by Mississippi Today discovered that the Department of Health was not consistent in its approval of cultivation plans and was struggling to manage a backlog of applications.
According to state Sen. Kevin Blackwell (R), one of the bill’s authors who spoke last week, the Health Department approved a large cannabis grower’s second location under a single license, which goes against the rules.
“Unfortunately the Department of Health in their rules and regs probably accepted some things that were not intentioned (sic) by the bill (…) So we are trying to correct those (…) and we do so in the bill,” Blackwell said.
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