MISSISSIPPI, USA — Mississippi is months away from the first medical marijuana dispensaries being opened in the state. The Mississippi State Health Department plans to start accepting online applications for licenses for patients, medical practitioners, and cannabis cultivation facilities in June.
Under the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act, as of right now, only those who have chronic medical conditions can legally use medical cannabis within the state. Those conditions include cancer, Parkinson's, Huntington's, HIV/ AIDs, sickle-cell, and seizures, to name a few.
But what's not on the bill are many mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
Since mental health is slowly getting out of the stigma phase, more people are becoming comfortable speaking about it and seeking help. But Megan Fortune, who's been battling both depression and anxiety for 25 years, said the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act further pushes the narrative that mental health conditions aren't real illnesses.
"It's not fair for the state to say you have a physical disability, therefore you can use medical marijuana, therefore you can't. it makes me angry but it is also so familiar," she said.
Doctor Peter Grinspoon, a cannabis specialist, agrees with Fortune and adds medical cannabis is a lot safer than using other medications like antidepressants or benzodiazepine.
"Is cannabis less dangerous than whatever we would be using for sleep? Or is cannabis less dangerous than whatever else we would be used for anxiety? I think that's important to ask," Grinspoon said.
Grinspoon said limiting medical marijuana to certain patients would be a disservice and it shows the lack of understanding surrounding how marijuana works in the body. He explained medical conditions like anxiety are one of the most common reasons why patients use medical cannabis. He said it helps people relax and calm down.
Mississippi State Senator Kevin Blackwell told ABC24 they followed what other states are doing. However, for patients with illnesses and diseases who aren't on the list, they can petition to the health department because it has the authority to add additional diseases.