New Rules Published for Mississippi's Medical Marijuana Program
Another milestone has been reached on the path to the day we can finally get a Mississippi Marijuana Card.
On April 11th, the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) publicly issued the first set of regulations for the state’s soon-to-open medical marijuana market. We can now see a better picture of what our program is going to be like.
Why Did the MSDH Need to Create Medical Marijuana Rules? Didn’t SB 2095 Already Do That?
Senate Bill 2095, the legislation that legalized medical marijuana, was passed by the legislature in January and reluctantly signed into law by Governor Tate Reeves in February.
However, SB 2095 left much of the details about Mississippi’s legal cannabis program to be determined by the MSDH.
And now the Department of Health has issued their first set of regulations. Y’All Politics reports that the MSDH began working on the program back in November of 2020 in response to the passage of Initiative 65. However, they since have paused their work after the state Supreme Court tossed that initiative, along with most pretense of Democracy here in Mississippi.
The new rules address cannabis testing facilities, work permit requirements, and advertising for marijuana businesses.
Making Sure Your Medicine Is Safe and Pure
One of the less-often discussed but important aspects of a good medical marijuana market is the precautions taken to ensure that the medicine patients buy at their dispensaries is verifiably safe and pure, unlike the mystery meds one can buy from black market street dealers.
The good news on that front is that the MSDH has taken their responsibility seriously, creating regulations designed to ensure that when you buy medical marijuana here, you’ll be getting exactly what you paid for with the exact medical specifications to best treat your conditions. Your medicine won't have any of the dangerous additives you can get when buying street drugs.
MSDH Regulations Include Strict Requirements for Cannabis Testing Facilities
The MSDH regulations for cannabis testing facilities involve extensive rules designed to make sure that only quality medicine makes it onto Mississippi dispensary shelves.
First, would-be testing facilities must be accredited by at least one of the several independent services:
American Association of Approved Laboratory Accreditation
Perry Johnson Approved Laboratory Accreditation
American National Standards Institute (ANSI) National Accreditation Board
International Accreditation Service
Beyond making sure your medicine is pure and safe when it leaves the cultivation facility, the MSDH also issued regulations for testing facilities to follow when staffing and training, in order to assure the safe handling of the medication.
Testing facilities must employ full-time supervisors or managers to fulfill select job duties that the average employee will not be adequately trained to handle. Facilities must also employ a full-time analyst with a background in biological, chemical, agricultural, environmental, or related sciences. Finally, testing facilities cannot share office space with medical practitioners who treat cannabis patients, nor can they refer patients to practitioners, to minimize the likelihood of unethical behavior. In a related requirement, testing facilities must conduct internal audits through outside auditors and are subject to state audits as well.
As for those so-called “average employees,” the MSDH regulations cover the training they’ll be required to have. Further, every six months, testing facilities must participate in a proficiency testing program to make sure that the quality that earned them their accreditation doesn’t slip once their business is up and running.
Finally, the MSDH also included regulations meant to ensure compliance with the state’s so-called seed-to-sale program, which will attempt to account for all medical marijuana from the time it’s planted until the moment you purchase it. For example, the MSDH issued procedures for what to do with medicine that fails the testing, how facilities must generate reports and certification for every sample they test, and how to transport and inventory testing samples.
MSDH Issues Work Permit Requirements for Employees of Cannabis Businesses
Beyond the regulations specific to testing facilities and their employees, the MSDH also issued regulations for work permits for all employees of cannabis businesses. As with the requirements discussed above, these regulations are designed to ensure that your medicine is only handled and dispensed by qualified, trustworthy personnel.
Owners, officers, board members, employees, volunteers, and “agents” of a medical marijuana business establishment must obtain a work permit from the MSDH. The application for that permit must include detailed, specific information about a prospective employee.
While the MSDH’s regulations are vague on exactly what all could cause a permit application to be denied, they do specify violent felony convictions on an applicant’s criminal record as a disqualifier. The regulations also include a judicial appeal process should an applicant feel they were unfairly denied a work permit.
MSDH Regulations Affect How Medical Marijuana May Be Advertised in Mississippi
In addition to ensuring that the medicine you buy is safe, the MSDH has also taken steps that are ostensibly meant to protect patients from unscrupulous advertising techniques. They seem more designed to keep medical marijuana as secret as possible to protect the sensibilities of the prohibitionists.
As business news site JD Supra put it, “Essentially all advertising and marketing in any form of media is prohibited,” with a few minor exceptions: Cultivators may put branding on their product labeling, on the company website, in local business directories, and when sponsoring nonprofit, charity, or advocacy events.
There is a strong argument to be made for limiting the advertising of prescription medication, which is why all prescription advertising was once banned in the U.S.
The argument goes like this: If a medication is available via prescription only, it should be up to a doctor to decide when it’s appropriate to prescribe that medication. The only purpose of advertising is to persuade consumers that they should seek out a product, so the only purpose in prescription medication advertising is to circumvent doctors and create demand in patients to the extent that they will seek out the medication from either their doctor or any other who is willing to write the prescription.
But as this article details, most prescription medication advertising regulations have been stripped away or diluted, and while prescription commercials remain more heavily regulated than other forms of advertising, they are also now ubiquitous.
It is probably a byproduct of the lingering stigma against medical marijuana that MSDH advertising regulations treat the marketing of cannabis as somehow less safe for consumer health than the marketing of other prescription medications. Regardless, that’s the boat medical marijuana cultivators are in.
But let’s not lose sight of the good news: Lingering stigmas around medical marijuana and related business or not, Mississippi is finally going to get medical marijuana, and we’re going to get it soon.
MSDH Is Getting Ready for Medical Marijuana, and You Should too!
There is no stopping the arrival of medical marijuana in Mississippi now, so make sure you don’t miss out on the relief you’ve been missing. Reserve an evaluation online today, and we’ll schedule an appointment for you with one of our compassionate cannabis doctors just as soon as Mississippi’s medical marijuana market is up and running.
You’ll meet with your new doctor virtually, using your smartphone or computer for a telemedicine appointment. You and your doctor will discuss your conditions so that they can determine whether you qualify for a Mississippi Marijuana Card. And you’ll do it all without even leaving your home! Not only that, but by making your reservation today, you can save $25 off the cost of the evaluation!
Doctors Who Care.
Relief You Can Trust.
Helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
If you have any questions, call us at (833) 781-6635, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!