History of Cannabis and CBD: Mississippi
Mississippi’s cannabis conversation surged to national attention during the case of Harper Grace, who started suffering from intractable seizures at the age of six months.
Over time, the seizures just started getting worse and worse. Doctors told the girl’s mother that she’d have to stick to anticonvulsants or move out of the state for access to cannabis-based treatments.
Though Mississippi has historically had some of the harshest restrictions on cannabis, this girl’s story motivated residents and lawmakers to change their minds. In April of 2014, Governor Bryant signed “Harper Grace’s Act” into law, following a nearly unanimous approval by both sides of the legislature.
The law allowed any physician to prescribe CBD in causes of debilitating illness; however, the CBD must have more than 15 percent cannabidiol and no more than half a percent of THC.
Despite the landmark decision, Harper’s parents still complain that they have yet to get legal access to high CBD extracts that may help with the girl’s condition. Additionally, the law didn’t create any regulatory framework for supplying legal CBD to medical patients.
Why is there still such regulatory resistance against sensible cannabis reform in the state of Mississippi, despite widespread constituent support? Part of the current standstill is due to the state’s historic treatment of marijuana users and law.
Cannabis, CBD, and Mississippi
Mississippi joined the growing number of states who criminalized cannabis use in the early twentieth century. Over time, lawmakers began to associate marijuana consumption with lawlessness, violence, and family problems.
It would take over four decades for cannabis law to budge. However, growing constituent pressure resulted in softening of law enforcement surrounding cannabis arrests.
In 1978, mere possession of less than 30 grams of cannabis could result in a misdemeanor charge. First offenses can result in jail time and recurrent fines, depending on the amount carried and if the carrier was using the cannabis publicly.
In practice, the law is quite different. Larger cities have opted to decrease the priority of nonviolent drug use and marijuana possession arrests. If someone is charged for possession, it will likely not result in a misdemeanor charge at all – many residents state that it’s common to be let off with only a petty fine.
To put it simply, there’s a large distinction between the laws on the books and the laws that are implemented in Mississippi communities. Some municipal governments have grown much more tolerant towards discreet marijuana possession, while others have started to vocally support decriminalization law.
Ultimately, bills like the Harper Grace Law are a small step in the direction towards increasing legalization. The new challenge of the state is to actually implement programs that would allow qualified patients regular access to CBD remedies.