Mississippi Medical and Marijuana Decriminalization Bills Would Set Stage to Thwart Federal Prohibition

JACKSON, Miss. (Feb. 1, 2016) – A Mississippi bill would legalize medical marijuana for qualifying patients in the state, thwarting in practice the deplorable federal prohibition on the same. It is accompanied by legislation to fully decriminalize marijuana as well.

Introduced by Sen. Derrick T. Simmons (D-Greenville), Senate Bill 2378 (SB2378) would “ensure that physicians are not penalized for discussing marijuana as a treatment option with their patients, and that seriously ill people who engage in the medical use of marijuana upon their physicians’ advice are not arrested and incarcerated for using marijuana for medical purposes.”

Patients would be able to qualify for medical marijuana if they suffered from one of the following ailments listed in SB2378:

(i) Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when diagnosed in a member of the military or military veteran if the PTSD is a service-connected disability, or the treatment of these conditions;

(ii) A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe pain; severe nausea; seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy; or severe and persistent muscle spasms including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis or Crohn’s disease.

Medical marijuana patients would be allowed to designate a caregiver under SB2378, which would permit another individual the legal authority to grow the plant on behalf of the qualifying patient. Caregivers would be allowed to store as much as “three (3) mature marijuana plants, four (4) immature marijuana plants and thirty (30) grams of usable marijuana per each mature plant” for a given patient.

Senate Bill 2379 (SB2379) was also introduced by Sen. Simmons to remove marijuana and hashish from the state list of Schedule 1 controlled substances. The bill would offer no new regulatory scheme or fine for non-compliance to enforce prohibition. It simply removes all mentions of marijuana from the criminal code, replacing it with freedom.

Despite the federal prohibition on marijuana, measures such as SB2378 and SB2379 remain perfectly lawful, and the feds can do little if anything to stop them in practice.

LEGALITY

The federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970 prohibits all of this behavior. Of course, the federal government lacks any authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.

Legalization of medical marijuana in Mississippi would remove a layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana, but federal prohibition will remain on the books.

FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By curtailing state prohibition, Mississippi sweeps away much of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.

Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly annual budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution either. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.

A GROWING MOVEMENT

Mississippi could join a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition, and blocking it in practice. Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska have already legalized recreational cannabis with California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts set to join them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization were passed in those states earlier this month.

With more than two-dozen states allowing cannabis for medical use as well, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition any more.

“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.

WHAT’S NEXT?

SB2378 and SB2379 will need to be approved by the Public Health and Welfare Committee and then the Judiciary, Division B committee before the bills can receive full Senate votes. Stay in touch with our Tenther Blog and our Tracking and Action Center for the latest updates.