With Positive Momentum Comes Setbacks in the Medical Cannabis Environment in Mississippi

Cannabis Industry News Alert

Client Alert

Author(s) ,

As the world turns in the new and exciting world of legal medical cannabis in Mississippi, momentum and progress coexist alongside impediments. 

The Good

Yesterday, the Mississippi Department of Health made two announcements that show the MDOH and state are trucking right along towards having an active medical cannabis program in place by the June and July deadlines contained in the Medical Cannabis Act. Specifically, Mississippi has contracted with one private entity to help administer the licensing platform for the cannabis program – NIC Licensing Solutions (NLS) – and another private entity to help manage the seed-to-sale tracking system with which medical cannabis establishments must comply – Metrc. As the MDOH’s announcement expressly states, these public/private partnerships demonstrate a medical cannabis program “committed to government cooperation and partnerships as it continues to work aggressively to meet regulatory deadlines set forth by the Legislature and signed by Governor Tate Reeves.” Is this cause to celebrate? We say yes, but…

The Not So Good

The list of Mississippi municipalities and counties that are opting out of medical cannabis is growing. Since we last wrote on this topic, at least four additional municipalities (Madison, Philadelphia, Horn Lake, and Flora) and six counties (Tippah, Lincoln, Newton, Neshoba, Lauderdale, and Pontotoc) opted out or have indicated they very well may vote that way soon. We expect more activity on this front in the coming weeks as the deadline for local governments to opt out (May 3) approaches. We are watching this closely, along with the efforts underway across the state to gather the signatures needed to set up local, special elections that could potentially override these opt-out decisions.

Related Nuggets

As we have previously discussed, locales that do not opt out can adopt ordinances that limit medical cannabis establishment operations beyond those set forth in the new law. Elvis Presley’s hometown of Tupelo has done just that. The city’s development code was officially amended yesterday to, among other things, preclude any medical cannabis businesses in Tupelo’s Fairpark District, require special approval by the planning committee to operate a cultivation facility that is larger than 15,000 square feet, and require payment of a “nominal administrative fee” and obtaining a special privilege license and building permit to operate a medical cannabis business.