According to a report by the Ganjapreneur, the Mississippi Department of Health (DOH) will start accepting applications for medical cannabis business licenses and patient submissions by June this year.
The DOH announced the news shortly after the state legalized medical marijuana for certain patients with debilitating conditions in early February.
The department plans to start accepting online licensing applications for patients, businesses, medical practitioners, cannabis cultivation facilities, and other stakeholders in the industry. Even so, dispensaries are seemingly months away from becoming operational as the department needs time to establish an effective licensing program.
The delay is to ensure the provision of a secure and accessible program that meets the needs of patients and provides safety to all Mississippi residents. Moreover, this will allow ample time for medical cannabis stores to source dispensary supplies and other essentials for their businesses.
Mississippi’s Republican Governor Tate Reeves signed the Marijuana Medical Cannabis Act earlier this month, making Mississippi the 37th state to legalize medical cannabis.
The new ordinance permits medical cannabis treatment for people with life-altering conditions like Alzheimer’s, cancer, and AIDS. The bill had to go through several tumultuous amendments to find the most befitting terms for its legislation.
In November 2020, voters approved a similar medical marijuana initiative that allowed patients to buy up to 140 grams of cannabis every month. However, Mississippi’s Supreme Court invalidated the vote six months later due to issues with the voting process.
Furthermore, Governor Reeves was also hesitant to sign the previous legislation citing concerns about the people who would be eligible to receive medical cannabis, THC levels per dosage, and the amount of marijuana every patient would be allowed to purchase.
Lawmakers worked tirelessly to create a bill that the Governor was more comfortable to approve.
The new law prohibits medical cannabis dispensaries from being located within 1,000 square feet of schools, churches, and child care facilities without a waiver.
There are also limitations that facilities such as hospitals have to adhere to, like adopting reasonable restrictions for using medical cannabis.
Patients must also receive certification from a qualified medical practitioner after an in-person assessment. They also have to obtain a registry identification card from the DOH.
The legislation also gives city and county authorities 90 days to opt-out of allowing medical cannabis facilities for growing or selling. However, the community can petition to overrule this decision by a vote and permit the formation of a medical marijuana market.
With the new law, patients can purchase up to 3.5 grams of cannabis per day, six days a week. Thus, this results in about 81 grams of medical marijuana per patient every month.
The ordinance will set taxes on the production and sale of cannabis and has specified that growers can only cultivate marijuana indoors under controlled conditions.
Although this may help regulate product quality, it causes an impasse with the nearby Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), one of the principal suppliers of electricity in North Mississippi.
Despite the legalization of medical cannabis in the state, TVA announced that it’s uncertain whether it can provide electricity to facilities that grow the substance for medical purposes.
TVA explained in a statement that it is a federally run organization. Since cannabis is still illegal on a federal level, the institution cannot allocate resources for the cultivation or distribution of the substance.
Consequently, cannabis growers find themselves in a predicament since they must find a way to cultivate marijuana exclusively indoors without the help of the most significant wholesale power supplier in the region.
The TVA statement also indicated that all employees who discover that a client served by the power plant violates federal laws concerning marijuana must report it to management.
Given how authorities can be harsh to illegal cannabis cultivation operations, this could potentially slow down the growth of the legal marijuana sector in Mississippi.
Numerous municipal utility facilities in the northern regions of Mississippi, like the North East Mississippi Electric Power Association and Oxford Utilities, receive power from TVA.
Although TVA provides power to these utility institutions, it is unclear whether they can serve electricity to legal cannabis facilities. Until state and federal cannabis laws align, this could be the only loophole that weed cultivators in Mississippi can utilize to avoid breaking the law.