Mississippi Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner wants to involve pharmacy board in overseeing medical marijuana

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson says he is taking steps to prepare for his potential role overseeing medical marijuana in the state.

“I’ve been in contact with regulators and commissioners around all 50 states where there is a medical marijuana program,” he says.

Thursday, the Mississippi Senate approved a bill allowing someone with a marijuana prescription a daily limit of 3.5 grams and specifying that any legal marijuana be grown indoors.

Senate Bill 2095 gives the Department of Agriculture authority over medical marijuana cultivation, processing, transportation, and disposition.

“We will be rolling out a program of enforcement and inspection. Based on the experience of other states.”

But Gipson says he still has concerns about the current bill.

“Oklahoma is producing about 80 percent more medical marijuana than its patients need,” he says. “So that 80 percent excess is going somewhere, and a lot of that is going on the black market.”

Columbus pharmacist Robert White says a way to help avoid this would be to have the state medical board and state pharmacy board control the prescribing and dispensing aspects.

“If we’re going to have licensed dispensaries of a drug, that’s always been by pharmacists controlled by the State Board of Pharmacy,” he says.

Gipson says the current bill allows them to contract with any state agency and expects to involve the pharmacy board and health department.

“In the states where it has been successful, there’s been involvement of the pharmacy board,” he says. “I think our pharmacy board needs to be involved.”

The commissioner also says he wants to make sure the amount of cultivation and production of marijuana is in line with the needs of Mississippians.

“Since we have zero experience with medical cannabis in Mississippi is hard to say,” White says. “It’ll take some experience to know whether that 3.5 grams a day is going to be adequate for some severe medical conditions.”

White says the bill is a step in the right direction.

“We were the first state to decriminalize marijuana, an ounce or less,” he says. “But we’re running the race to see if we can be the last one to finally legalize medical use.”

Gipson said he was in favor of Senator Angela Hill’s bill that included the pharmacy board’s involvement but also prohibited smoking medical cannabis.

The bill is currently awaiting approval by the Mississippi House of Representatives.

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