JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Patients have started buying medical marijuana in Mississippi, nearly a year after the products were legalized in the state.
The Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association said in a news release Thursday that the first purchases happened Wednesday at The Cannabis Company in Brookhaven and at two dispensaries in Oxford — Hybrid Relief and Star Buds.
“We have been working since 2018 to get medical marijuana in the hands of patients in Mississippi, and it’s surreal to see it finally come to fruition,” Ken Newburger, executive director of the association, said in the release. “This is only the beginning. More and more businesses will be harvesting, testing, and getting their products on the shelves in the coming months."
WLOX-TV reported that more than 1,700 patients are enrolled in Mississippi’s medical marijuana program. Among them is Tom Goldman, who said he has Parkinson's disease and chronic knee pain.
Goldman told the TV station that the Mississippi State Department of Health activated his medical card and alerted him by email Sunday.
“I’ve been waiting for this day for so long - smoking marijuana legally,” Goldman said. “I thought I would be dead before this day showed up.”
A majority of Mississippi voters approved a medical marijuana initiative in November 2020. The state Supreme Court invalidated it six months later by ruling that the state’s initiative process was outdated and the measure was not put properly on the ballot.
Early in 2022, the Republican-controlled Legislature passed a bill authorizing the sale of medical marijuana. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed the bill Feb. 2, 2022, and it became law immediately. Establishing regulations and businesses took months, and some communities opted out of allowing facilities that grow or sell the products.
Elizabeth Cavanaugh, owner of Coastal Capital Dispensary, told WLOX it is an “extreme relief” to move toward being able to dispense products to patients.
“We’ve been talking to people on the phones since November every single day and the stories we hear sometimes are heartbreaking but also hopeful because we know that it’s coming and now it’s finally here,” Cavanaugh said.