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New medical marijuana laws aimed to help patients, increase research will take effect in July

Medical marijuana
Photo by SuperTalk Mississippi News

New medical marijuana laws are being rolled out in Mississippi beginning July 1.

Medical cannabis was officially legalized in the Magnolia State in January of 2022. Since then, more than 40,000 Mississippians have received certification for cannabis medical care.

Two new bills, Senate Bill 2857 and Senate Bill 2888 were passed during the most recent legislative session and signed into law by Governor Tate Reeves. Both laws are designed to improve access for those receiving cannabis healthcare and enhance the capacity for future research. Although the new program has been somewhat successful, including generating more than $15 million for the state, lawmakers saw a need to address some challenges.

Senate Bill 2857 aims to improve patient experiences, particularly in allowing more flexible access to their medicine. The bill revises the Medical Cannabis Act to remove language that restricted patients to only receiving seven days of supply to now allow getting a full month of medicine at a time.

“This change will have a positive impact on patients who are mobility-impaired or who live quite some distance from a dispensary location,” Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association executive director Henry Crisler said. “It will also align medical cannabis with other medications that dispensed in 30-day supplies.”

Senate Bill 2888 tightens oversight in response to a lack of adherence testing parameters that spurred recent litigation against two Mississippi medical cannabis companies. The bill also widens the capacity for research, which will serve to increase the quality of medical cannabis in the state and allow for newer health products.

Robert Welch, director of the National Center for Cannabis Research in Oxford, said SB 2888 will allow researchers to improve products available to the public, such as synthetic CBD products Mississippians can purchase at gas stations.

“With those products, you don’t really know what you’re getting,” Welch said. “That’s the big issue. Synthetic products can be much stronger and more intoxicating than you can find in a legitimate, plant-based product from a credited dispensary.”

Welch added that funding from the legislation will allow for increased quantity and quality of research, which would eventually replace toxic, synthetic products with quality plant-based products that have been rigorously tested.

“You want to purify and extract [the cannabis products] to the point where we feel comfortable giving it to patients and know the effects,” Welch said.

The research center will also expand its studies on “drug-on-drug interactions,” testing how medicinal marijuana interacts with other pharmaceuticals and how patients are affected.

Both bills will go into effect on July 1, allowing an improved patient experience as the new research begins immediately.

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