Let’s Get This Show on the Road: MSDH Releases First Drafts of Medical Cannabis Regulations

Cannabis Industry News Alert

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On April 8, the Mississippi Department of Health (MSDH) used a Friday news dump to release good news on the Mississippi medical cannabis front. We now have a clearer and fuller picture of how the state will regulate testing facilities, marketing and advertising, and work permits for medical cannabis establishment employees. While the proposed regulations are fairly self-explanatory, here are some of our takeaways. If you want to submit comments regarding these drafts, you need to do so here by 12:59 p.m. on April 15, 2022.

Testing Facilities

  • Testing facilities must be “accredited” for testing by at least one analyte in order to obtain a license to operate in Mississippi. Accreditation must come from one of the following organizations:
    • American Association of Approved laboratory Accreditation
    • Perry Johnson Approved laboratory Accreditation
    • American National Standards Institute (ANSI) National Accreditation Board
    • International Accreditation Service
  • In addition to work permit requirements (below), testing facilities must engage in specified employee training programs.
  • Each testing facility must employ a full-time supervisor or managerial employee responsible for certain obligations and tasks who possesses a degree in certain disciplines.
  • Each testing facility must employ a full-time analyst who has a certain background in biological, chemical, agricultural, environmental, or related sciences.
  • Testing facilities cannot share office space with or refer patients to a practitioner.
  • While they do not include a draft of the application, these proposed regulations do specify the information a testing facility applicant must provide and include with its license application.
    • These include standard operating procedures on a variety of topics that contain certain specified information; and
    • Detailed accreditation information, including the applicant’s competence to perform testing of all required analytes for relevant test methods.
  • These proposed regulations detail the testing requirements for usable marijuana, concentrates, extracts, and edibles, what must be tested for in each product, and what standards should be used when testing.
  • These proposed regulations detail the procedures for failed tests, as to each type of test.
  • Testing facilities must generate and report a certificate of analysis for each representative sample tested, which must contain certain specified information.
  • Certain requirements govern the transportation and inventorying of testing samples.
  • Testing facilities must develop and follow extensive quality assurance programs. The minimum requirements of such are specified in these proposed regulations.
  • Certain quality control sampling and good, approved laboratory practices must be followed.
  • At least every six months, every testing facility must participate in a certain proficiency testing program.
  • Testing facilities must conduct internal audits, hire outside auditors to conduct audits, and are subject to state audits.

Advertising and Marketing

  • Essentially all advertising and marketing in any form of media is prohibited except:
    • Product labeling
    • Branding activities, including:
      • The establishment’s website
      • Listings in business directories (such as a phone book or cannabis/medical-related publications)
      • Sponsorships of nonprofit charity or advocacy events
    • Branding is defined as “the process of giving a meaning to a specific medical cannabis establishment’s business by publicizing the business’s name and logo.”
  • Certain types of branding are prohibited, and local zoning and permitting requirements can address branding.
  • Businesses cannot offer any type of inducements to patients, such as discounts, coupons, or sales.

Work Permits

  • Owners, officers, board members, employees, volunteers, and agents (“medical cannabis establishment agents”) of any medical cannabis establishment must obtain a work permit from the MSDH before the agent can begin work.
  • An application for a work permit must include certain specified information and materials.
  • Denial of a work permit application is subject to judicial review.

We anticipate the MSDH will release more proposed regulations soon and will provide an update when they do. But do not miss this point: If you want to secure a license as early as possible, you must be taking steps now to have your application in order. It is clear that many specific and some cumbersome components of your business must be in order and included with your application to be compliant.