Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana companies say Mockingbird broke rules

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Weed war: Medical marijuana competitors cry foul over Health Department’s response to company breaking rules

One of the largest operators in Mississippi’s fledgling industry did not follow regulations, according to Department of Health documents obtained by Mississippi Today.

But the department’s response so far — to write Mockingbird LLC a letter listing “corrective actions” — has competitors crying foul. They say Mockingbird was allowed to grow and harvest a crop improperly and on the cheap in plastic- and cloth-covered greenhouses that will allow them to beat others growing in buildings to market as the state’s medical marijuana program gets rolling. 

They also say the department appears to be giving big-money Mockingbird special treatment that will shut out others, particularly smaller home-grown Mississippi companies.

“(Mockingbird) has come in and thrown a lot of money around and they are expecting to be pandered to,” said Zack Wilson, chief operating officer of Good Flower Farms, a smaller grower in Potts Camp. “Pictures don’t lie. They have broken the damned law. What is the state going to do to them? That’s what everybody wants to know.”

Others in the industry shared similar sentiments but would not comment publicly. Mississippi Today was supplied photos taken from outside one of Mockingbird’s growing sites that show what appear to be violations of state regulations. One regulation is that “cultivation activities are not visible or accessible to the public.” Through a records request, Mississippi Today obtained Health Department photos and correspondence documenting other problems.

Health Department inspectors on Sept. 14, after receiving complaints likely from competitors, found that a Mockingbird grow site was out of compliance with several state growing regulations. Among the department’s findings at the site: Mockingbird was growing plants in greenhouses with tarp or clear plastic walls (some rolled up and some with large holes in them) and lax security that included a loosely chained back fence gate with a padlock. 

In this photo submitted to Mississippi Today, taken outside a Mockingbird Cannabis site near Raymond, marijuana plants are seen growing in a plastic-covered ‘hoop house.’

State regulations say “all cultivation activities must take place in indoor, enclosed, locked and secure facilities” that have a “complete roof enclosure supported by connecting permanent walls, constructed of solid materials extending from the ground to the roof.” The regulations also specify a long list of stringent security requirements including “commercial grade locks on all external doors.”

Health Department inspectors, records show, also found that Mockingbird was growing plants without the required state “seed-to-sale” tracking tags attached.

Mockingbird’s CEO, in a lengthy interview with Mississippi Today, said the company has corrected minor issues and that the complaints are sour grapes from competitors because the company took a “calculated risk” investing millions before a state program was approved, giving it an edge on competition. It plans to have marijuana product ready soon, likely the first major batch for the program lawmakers approved this year after years of debate and stalls.

“I will tell you we haven’t done anything we didn’t disclose to the Department of Health and in our application,” said Mockingbird CEO Clint Patterson, a former prosecutor from Oklahoma. “We feel like we have gone above and beyond to be good citizens, compliant with law enforcement and compliant with the Department of Health.”

Patterson said that of the 15,000 or so plants Mockingbird was growing at its secondary facility, only 30-50 did not have tags. He said the company had tags for the plants, but just hadn’t attached them and quickly rectified that.

Law enforcement also received calls about Mockingbird, and state Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell said Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics officers went out to the site and looked into it. But he said once they learned Mockingbird was a licensed grower, they backed off. He said the way state medical marijuana laws are written, the Department of Public Safety cannot participate in regulating the industry, and it would be up to the Health Department to call them in “if they felt something was egregious enough.”

Health Department officials refused to answer Mississippi Today’s questions about the company.

The greenhouse effect

It’s unclear whether Mockingbird’s cultivation license covers the former plant nursery where inspectors found issues. The site, at a property called Standing Pine, is about 12 miles away from Mockingbird’s licensed indoor growing facility outside Raymond, which is listed as its “physical address” on the state’s registry of medical marijuana cultivator licenses.

Cultivators are allowed only one growing license. Mockingbird says its license covers the Standing Pine site on Parsons Road as well as its main indoor growing facility on Springridge Road. Patterson said Mockingbird clearly stated in its application that it planned to use the Standing Pine location and supplied multiple photos, including pictures of the greenhouses it planned to use, and other information in its roughly 700-page application.

Competitors say this is bunk, that cultivation licenses are supposed to be for one location, and that they were told they couldn’t grow in greenhouses.

Wilson said he had bought 15 greenhouses before the medical marijuana program was up and running, but was later told by the Health Department he couldn’t use them, so he built a structure with 7-foot tall steel walls. He said another grower he knows was also not allowed to use greenhouses he had.

Growing in greenhouses allows faster, cheaper growth of a type of marijuana plant that can be used for processing into edibles and other products. In legislative debate and hearings on medical marijuana, proponents assured reluctant lawmakers that the state’s program would be secure and strictly regulated and growing would be “indoors” to provide more security, prevent contamination and make regulation easier. At the time, farmers in the Delta complained that they were being shut out of the program in part because of the high cost of constructing such facilities.

“I have five different places I would love to grow at right now, but they wouldn’t let me grow at five different addresses,” Wilson said. “We were told it all has to be at the same location … If somebody puts in a 770-page application, that’s not an application, that’s trying to blanket them with paperwork … What if I put something in my (application) that I wanted to use butt-naked school children for cultivation and they didn’t catch it? Just because you put something in there and the department overlooked it doesn’t mean it’s right.”

Mockingbird facility photos from the Mississippi Department of Health.

The department’s public registry of licensed cultivators lists Mockingbird’s cultivation facility for its license as “physical address” 1577 Springridge Road. State regulations say, “A license shall be issued for the specific location identified on the application, and is valid only for the owner, premises and name designated on the application and Department issued license and the location for which it is issued.” Patterson points to this regulation as allowing the Standing Pine cultivation on Parsons Road. Others point to it as clearly not allowing it.

State Rep. Lee Yancey, one of the lead drafters of the state’s Medical Marijuana Act, declined to answer most questions about the issues with Mockingbird. He said for now the Health Department is in charge of interpreting what the rules are and that, “If the statute is not clear enough, we will address it (in the ).”

As for growing facilities, Yancey said, “My understanding was that it was to be an enclosed, locked facility, but how you define that — I guess that’s the issue. Right now, the Health Department will interpret what that means … I think the legislative intent was walls and a ceiling and a floor … We will be looking at tweaks to things in January.”

Sen. Kevin Blackwell, the lead drafter of the legislation, could not be reached for comment and did not respond to a message seeking an interview.

‘Hoop houses’ and ‘Dutch sunhouses’ 

Patterson, in a lengthy telephone interview with Mississippi Today with a Mockingbird lobbyist listening in, said he believes his company has been compliant with all regulations and “they had some corrective action for us and we complied … very, very quickly.”

“They made it very clear they weren’t issuing violations, they were issuing a corrective action,” Patterson said. “… When we applied, we were very upfront about what we were going to do and where we were cultivating. We spent $30 million in the state of Mississippi, and we hired Mississippi people and we bought our supplies in Mississippi and we did this before there was a program, because we believed in the voice of the people in wanting this law passed — they voted resoundingly on Initiative 65, a mandate … This is typical in this industry that when a program starts, whoever has taken that calculated risk, the competitors will typically complain.”

During the lengthy interview, Patterson explained that “our main structure (at Standing Pine) is a Dutch-style sunhouse, that has a permanent foundation, like a foundation you would see in a house — concrete, plumbed, has drainage in it and permanent structured walls, has retractable function.”

“When they approved our application, we assumed we were good,” Patterson said. “But when they came back out, they want hard plastic on the walls.”

Patterson said he was unfamiliar with details of Health Department photos showing walls with no covering or with thin, clear, plastic or torn cloth tarp covering. But he said all the buildings are being secured per Health Department requests and follow-up, including a teleconference between the department and Mockingbird officials.

Patterson denied that Mockingbird had been growing marijuana in “hoop houses,” which are half-circle shaped greenhouses made of curved tubing and covered in plastic sheeting.

“Greenhouses are fundamentally different than hoop houses,” Patterson said. “… We are only growing in greenhouses that have concrete foundations with draining and plumbing.”

But when sent a copy of a photo of a hoop house with open walls with marijuana plants growing at Standing Pine that was supplied to Mississippi Today, Patterson corrected his earlier statements.

“As to the picture, I’ve asked internally and it appears that was a staging area staff set up this summer to apply (plant tracking) tags,” Patterson wrote in a text message after the interview. “We spotted that with our own internal controls. Management at the facility identified that was not an appropriate building, and all plants were moved. Again, we found that ourselves. Those plants weren’t there when Dept of Health inspected us and they aren’t there today. We never flowered plants in that building.”

Mockingbird facility photos from the Mississippi Department of Health.

Also during the interview, Patterson said the medical marijuana law passed by the Legislature refers to greenhouses and 3-foot tall walls with retractable tops in the definition of acceptable growing facilities. But later, he messaged: “I checked with our legal folks and the words greenhouse and three-foot high walls was in earlier drafts, but was not in the final bill.

“However, to be clear, the definitions do allow for a permanent grow house that we operate, and as I mentioned previously, we did show the department exactly where and how we intended to grow.”

During his interview, Patterson repeatedly referred to Mockingbird’s 163,000 square-foot facility that once housed the state Department of Revenue on Springridge Road as “our indoor facility,” and said no plants were ever transferred from Standing Pine to the Springridge Road building.

“The idea that we would do that and expose plants to spiders, mites and pests and then move them to our indoor facility where it’s completely pristine … the idea that we would do that and expose our indoor to all those pollutants is ridiculous,” Patterson said.

But when asked if that meant he considered Standing Pine to be outdoor growing, Patterson said, “I’ve never called Standing Pine outdoor. A greenhouse is considered indoor in the industry. Outdoor is in a field, row cropping.”

Mockingbird facility photos from the Mississippi Department of Health.

Corrective actions, plants harvested

It’s unclear what, if anything, the Health Department — which didn’t want the task of regulating medical marijuana in the first place — will do, beyond sending Mockingbird Cannabis LLC the Sept. 21 letter telling it to take “corrective actions.”

Health Department spokeswoman Liz Sharlot, when Mississippi Today asked to interview someone at the department, initially said, “I am always happy to answer any written questions.” But after being provided written questions, she said, “I am unable to answer your questions at this time as this is an ongoing investigation.”

But the Health Department’s letter to Mockingbird didn’t indicate any ongoing investigation and said, “Please notify our office, in writing, of completion of Mockingbird’s corrective actions and provide documentation and timelines of actions taken.”

Mockingbird responded in writing to the Sept. 21 letter on Oct. 3, noting that, “While I understand that our inspection was instigated by false, anonymous accusations submitted to your department, we are nevertheless pleased that you were able to tour and inspect both of our cultivation facilities and welcome any suggestions for improvement.”

The company said it had immediately tagged the untagged plants inspectors found and “processes have been updated to ensure no future delays in applying tags.”

Mockingbird facility photos from the Mississippi Department of Health.

The company also said it has hired a new security company — prior to the inspection — and is beefing up security at Standing Pine, including “increased internet capacity, installed additional camera systems, and ordered updated siding and doors for certain greenhouses” and that it will not add new plants there until everything is updated.

“Per our discussion, Mockingbird will harvest the majority of plants at the greenhouse facility today, emptying the largest greenhouse and preparing it for security updates,” the letter said. “We have also worked to update security at the three smaller greenhouses on the property to hold any remaining plants that could not yet be harvested.”

‘This will put other people out of business’

The regulations the Health Department helped promulgate and is supposed to enforce have a “Schedule of Disciplinary Actions” including large fines, suspension or revocation of licenses for a variety of first, second and third violations. Its rule says, “In addition to any applicable criminal actions, the following schedule shall be used when administratively disciplining medical cannabis establishments for violating statutory and/or regulatory requirements.” It says the department has the right to increase the penalties based on aggravating circumstances but does not address waiving the penalties that “shall be used.”

Those penalties include a fine of $5,000 for first offense “Failure to comply with security requirements,” a fine of $5,000 for “Failure to accurately track inventory,” and a $10,000 fine and one week suspension for “Willful failure to accurately track inventory.”

Activities outside of the rules, state regulations say, “may be considered suspected illegal activities and reported to proper authorities as such.”

Wilson said Mockingbird being allowed to harvest the greenhouse plants means, “They were given a head start, a huge advantage over everyone else in the state.”

“They grew enough marijuana in that one grow to fully stock every dispensary — millions of dollars worth,” Wilson said. “… It’s funny, they were the ones that lobbied to get all these rules into place to make it harder for a small guy like me to get a license. Everything has to be indoor with solid walls … But then they just drown the state with paperwork and call their greenhouses indoors. No, hell, it’s not … If that place is legal, how come it’s not finished out yet?

“Yes, this will put other people out of business,” Wilson said. “What they have done is crush the small in this business.”

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Dispensary hopefuls race for licenses

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Mississippi dispensary hopefuls race for licenses as growers plant state’s first medical marijuana crops

Mississippi’s hopeful dispensary owners are in turf wars across the as they rush to get in applications to lay their stake in the new industry. 

The Mississippi Department of Revenue has already received 111 applications for dispensaries, which it started accepting on July 1. That’s more than in any other business category and has led to $4.4 million in collected application fees. 

“The dispensary applications have created a race of who could apply faster to mark their territory,” said Ken Newburger, the director of Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association. “When you start drawing circles around Mississippi – 1,000 feet away from churches, 1,500 feet away from every other dispensary – there’s not a lot of land left.” 

Newburger was referring to the radius laws that prevent dispensaries from opening shops too close to schools, churches and competing stores. 

So far, 27 businesses – including cultivators, processors, transporters and waste management – have applied for licenses with the Mississippi Department of Health, which is handling those businesses. 

The health department has issued nine business-related licenses, giving a few companies clearance to begin growing marijuana crops. 

Mockingbird Cannabis, one of the state’s early industry leaders, was among the first to receive its license. The company has invested $30 million into his 167,000-square-foot facility near Raymond, according to CEO Clint Peterson. The company has received four licenses so far to transport, dispose of, produce, and grow medical marijuana and medical marijuana products. 

CEO of River Remedy William Chism

“I did not make the decision to leave business school for a year lightly but this is too important,” Chism said. 

He had been watching the local industry from afar, but the timing to be part of the new wave of Mississippi business drew him back home. 

Chism’s company has plans to grow, process, manufacture and sell medical marijuana. Their flagship store will be in Byram, where their 37,000-square-foot grow facility is already located. 

“We’re going to be among the first to market,” said Chism, referring to medical marijuana products availability to patients. “We completed our cultivation construction and we’re ready to come to market fairly soon this fall.” 

Remedy, Chism said, has positioned itself to be a midsize player in the new Mississippi industry. It is much larger than a micro-grower but not as large as some of the other companies early to the market.

Southern Crop, which already has medical marijuana businesses in Louisiana, also received licenses for cultivation and processing. The company’s CEO, pharmacist Randy J. Mire, announced the company was the first in Mississippi to get an issued license to begin growing marijuana and processing products on July 8. That will happen in its Meridian facility. 

The state’s newly established businesses are also on the hunt for workers. Seventy-two people statewide are waiting on their permits to work in the medical marijuana industry and 58 already have received their permits, according to the health department. 

Chism, for example, plans to hire about 40 people from cultivation technicians to traditional accounting and HR jobs. He said companies know won’t have direct experience with the plant unless they’ve worked out of state and that shouldn’t deter people from applying.

“Really, it’s about learning quickly, strong attention to detail and a passion for what you’re doing,” Chism said.

Most of the state’s new medical marijuana businesses have advertised competitive pay, starting between $15 and $17 an hour.

The health department is still processing 40 applications for practitioners – nurses, doctors, optitricians – to be able to see patients. The department has given 24 licenses to practitioners, allowing them to prescribe medical marijauna cards to patients.

So far, only 13 patients have received medical marijuana cards and nine others have submitted applications. There is no medical marijuana yet available to purchase in Mississippi.

Newburger said that number isn’t an indication of demand.

“Patients aren’t jumping up and down to get a card they cannot use,” he said. 

He expects that number to explode once medical marijuana products are close to being on sale and doctors and other providers better establish their new medical marijuana practices. 

He said other businesses, such as cultivators and processors, will still steadily come on line as well. Many are dealing with supply chain slowdowns as they construct their growing facilities and finish plans. 

The applications are also complex. Chism said when he put his in for cultivation on June 1, it totaled hundreds of pages of documents.

None of the more than 100 dispensary hopefuls have heard back yet on whether their applications have been accepted. By law, the department of revenue has 30 days to process them. 

Hemp World co-owner DeAundrea Delaney arranges products for sale in the store she and her husband Santita Delaney opened in Starkville, Friday, Mar. 4, 2022.

Hemp World co-owner DeAundrea Delaney hopes to a dispensary after years selling CBD. She was still putting on the finishing touches on her application this week. 

“I’m taking my time and making sure everything is correct,” she said. “Application fees are nonrefundable.” 

Between the costs to apply and the actual license, dispensaries are on the hook for $40,000. 

Delaney hopes to open a dispensary in Pearl. She said potential dispensaries have been courteous, trying to figure out where others are going so they don’t interfere with each other. Ultimately, it’s a gamble and she doesn’t expect everyone to play nice. 

“I didn’t know it would be 100 already,” she said Wednesday. “That’s exciting, but, gosh, I better hurry.”

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Medicaid expansion proposal was almost on Nov. ballot

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Mississippi officials did what South Dakota leaders couldn’t — block Medicaid expansion

The South Dakota Republican leadership, like many of their counterparts in Mississippi, oppose accepting federal funds to provide health insurance for primarily the working poor.

In South Dakota, the Republican leadership tried to prevent approval of an upcoming citizen-sponsored ballot initiative that would mandate the expansion of if passed by voters in November. In a preemptive move, South Dakota legislators placed a constitutional amendment on the June party primary election ballot that would have required any citizen-sponsored initiative going forward (such as Medicaid expansion on the November ballot) to garner the approval of 60% of voters instead of the customary majority vote to pass.

South Dakotans rejected the constitutional amendment earlier this month, setting the table for their likely approval in November of the citizen-sponsored initiative to expand Medicaid to provide health insurance for primarily the working poor.

In Mississippi, if not for the action of elected officials, a proposal to expand Medicaid also most likely would have been on the upcoming November ballot. But unlike in South Dakota, the aim of the elected officials in Mississippi was not to stop Medicaid expansion, though that was one result of their actions.

In May 2021, the ruled invalid a citizen-sponsored initiative to approve . In doing so, the 9-member elected Supreme Court also ruled invalid the entire initiative process. That decision halted the effort of Medicaid expansion supporters, including the Mississippi Hospital Association, to garner the required number of signatures needed to place the initiative on the November 2022 ballot.

Legislators said during the 2022 session they would fix the language that led to the Supreme Court ruling the initiative process invalid and reinstate it. But in the end, legislators could not agree on that fix and the session ended without legislators restoring the initiative process.

It would be easy to assume that legislators failed to restore the initiative process because they wanted to prevent another effort to place Medicaid expansion on the ballot. But the facts do not necessarily support that assumption.

One of the primary opponents of Medicaid expansion is House Speaker Philip Gunn. But Gunn was backing a proposal to restore the initiative process with essentially the same signature mandates as the original process.

Over in the Senate, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, the presiding officer, has indicated support for some form of Medicaid expansion. But it was Hosemann’s Senate leadership that was arguing for requiring a much greater number of signatures to place an issue on the ballot. The Senate’s proposal would have more than doubled the number of signatures needed to place an issue on the ballot, making it more difficult for the Medicaid expansion supporters to succeed. In the end the two sides could not reach agreement on the mandated number of signatures.

In essence, the House, where Gunn opposes Medicaid expansion, was fighting not to make it more difficult to place issues on the ballot while the Senate, where Hosemann has indicated some support for Medicaid expansion, was advocating for making it much more difficult to place issues on the ballot.

Unless Gunn was using some super Jedi mind game where he was tricking the Senate with reverse psychology, his intent was not to block the initiative from being used for Medicaid expansion.

But it would make sense that those opposed to Medicaid expansion would be leery of the initiative process. After all, voters in six Republican states have subverted the wishes of their elected officials and expanded Medicaid.

As mentioned, South Dakota will likely be the seventh this November. And polls indicate would have approved Medicaid expansion had it reached the ballot this fall.

The only where the ballot initiative to expand Medicaid was not successful thus far, other than Mississippi, is Florida. And in that case, legislators were successful in changing the rules of signature gathering mid-stream and throwing up legal obstacles to the effort to expand Medicaid through the ballot initiative.

Thus far, 38 states have expanded Medicaid. The North Carolina is considering a Medicaid expansion proposal. Of those states that have not expanded Medicaid, only three — South Dakota, Wyoming and Florida — have mechanisms for citizens to bypass the Legislature and place initiatives on the ballot.

Perhaps there will be efforts again in the 2023 Legislature to restore the initiative process in Mississippi and give Medicaid supporters another opportunity to place the issue before voters.

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Health Department: Mississippi medical marijuana months away

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www.wxxv25.com – WXXV Staff – 2022-06-07 14:30:00

Waveland Mayor Looking To Open Medical Marijuana Facility In The City

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — It could be the end of the year before is available in Mississippi because businesses need time to receive licenses and to grow, test and prepare to sell the products, Health Department officials said Monday.

The department opened the licensing application process last week for patients and caregivers interested in using medical as allowed under a new state law; for…

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Medical marijuana application signups at over 1,800

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Mississippi’s medical marijuana application portal already has more than 1,800 users 

Mississippi’s license portal is shy of a week old but more than 1,800 people have already registered for online accounts to apply for licenses, the Department of Health announced Monday. 

“If you can shop on Amazon you can probably work through the portal,” said Kris Jones, the director of Mississippi’s new medical marijuana program.

The program is still in its early stages and leaders don’t expect medical marijuana to be available to purchase for another six months. 

“I know everyone would love for it to be up in running,” said Jim Craig, the director of the Office of Health Protection. “It looks like it will be the end of the year that we see products.” 

About 85% of those who have made accounts on the new portal are patients seeking treatment. But 15 businesses and nine medical practitioners have completed their applications, Jones said during a Monday press conference. A dozen people have also submitted applications for work permits, which are required for marijuana-related jobs. 

The new portal is the first step for patients to eventually receive a medical marijuana card; for doctors, optometrists and nurse practitioners to become certified providers; for facilities to receive licensing to grow, process and test marijuana; and for businesses and their workers to become certified to transport cannabis and dispose of its waste. 

The portal does not handle applications for those hoping to open dispensaries. Those applications will be processed by the Mississippi Department of Revenue. The department is to begin accepting those applications on July 1. 

READ MORE: Inside a $30 million bet on Mississippi’s medical marijuana industry

Jones said all applications that have come through the portal are still under review and the number of applications is growing daily. 

While hopeful medical marijuana patients can make accounts and begin the application process through the new portal, none of them can receive their license to buy medical cannabis until they’ve met with a certified doctor or practitioner. 

No one is certified yet to offer that care but doctors’ applications will be processed within 30 days, according to the program’s rules. Jones said approved providers and dispensaries will eventually be listed on the health department website to assist patients. 

Craig touted the regulation requirements deployed to manage the state’s processing labs, which are among the businesses that can now apply to be licensed. These labs will test THC levels – the chemical in marijuana that produces the feeling of being high – as well as for possible contaminants in products. 

Craig called this one of the key pieces to product safety in the state. Another safety measure is limiting advertising and marketing options so medical marijuana “isn’t something very attractive to kids,” Craig said. 

Medical marjinaua businesses cannot be on social media, for example. Businesses are limited to creating just a website and logo.

More than two dozen Mississippi cities opted out of the medical marijuana program. Although that limits where medical marijuana businesses can open and operate, it does not prevent licensed patients in those areas from using and buying medical marijuana. 

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Ex-Mississippi Governor Ronnie Musgrove seeks to open medical marijuana testing facility

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rssfeeds.clarionledger.com – Mississippi – 2022-06-02 06:28:25

JACKSON, Miss. — Former Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove is teaming up with a executive to apply for a license to open a testing facility.

More:Medical marijuana applications became available June 1. What you need to know to apply.

The started taking applications Wednesday for the state’s new medical marijuana…

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Mississippi State Department of Health taking marijuana applications

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rssfeeds.clarionledger.com – Mississippi – 2022-06-01 15:53:10

Mississippi’s program officially began Wednesday as the Mississippi Department of Health began accepting applications.

Applications being accepted Wednesday were for cultivation, processing, transportation, disposal, research testing, patient ID cards, and physician certification. Businesses and people wanting to apply for work permits could also apply as of Wednesday.

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A look at who’s in and who’s out with medical marijuana

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www.wxxv25.com – WXXV Staff – 2022-06-01 16:14:27

Five cities and two counties in ’s six counties have opted out of , either in whole or in part.

Here are the lists of those who have opted out:

Cities that opted out:

  • Amory
  • Belmont
  • Booneville
  • Brandon
  • Caledonia
  • Carrollton
  • Clinton
  • D’Iberville
  • Ecru
  • Flora
  • Flowood (opted in for research)
  • Gluckstadt
  • Greenwood
  • Horn Lake
  • Kilmichael
  • Lucedale
  • Madison
  • New Albany
  • North Carrollton (opted in for…

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Application process opens June 1 for medical marijuana program

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Biloxi - Local News Feed Images 012

www.wxxv25.com – WXXV Staff – 2022-05-31 16:00:13

Wednesday is the first day that people who plan to take advantage of the ’s program can apply for the program.

The Mississippi Department of Health will have applications online for patients, medical practitioners, facilities and services related to the medical marijuana program.

The state Department of Revenue will be licensing dispensaries beginning in July.

There is a 30-day approval time for…

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Mississippi ballot initiatives won’t be overturned

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Voters have OK’d three ballot initiatives in state history. Now, lawmakers have written all into law.

All three of the citizen-sponsored ballot initiatives that have been ratified by Mississippi voters have since been approved by lawmakers, ensuring the laws cannot be struck down as a result of a landmark May 2021 Supreme Court ruling that ended the initiative process.

Since voters approved the now-defunct initiative process in 1992, just three initiatives have made it all the way through the process to gain the approval of voters. They are:

  • A photo identification requirement to vote.
  • The legalization of .
  • A prohibition on the government taking private property for the use of another private entity.

Late in the 2022 session, the approved and Gov. Tate Reeves signed into law a bill that has the practical effect of preventing the taking of private property by the government for the use of another private entity.

The bill placed in state law essentially the same language approved by voters in 2011 after the Farm Bureau Federation raised enough signatures through the initiative process to place the issue on the ballot.

The reason Farm Bureau and others supported the Legislature passing the eminent domain bill is the May 2021 Supreme Court decision saying the state’s initiative process was invalid.

READ MORE: Mississippi Supreme Court rules ballot initiative process unconstitutional

That Supreme Court decision came after voters in November 2020 approved an initiative legalizing medical marijuana. But the medical marijuana initiative process was struck down by the Supreme Court in May 2021 at the same time the entire initiative process was ruled invalid. Earlier, in the 2021 session, a bill was passed and signed into the law to enact a medical marijuana program.

The Supreme Court struck down the medical marijuana initiative and the entire initiative process because the process required the mandated number of signatures to place an issue on the ballot be gathered equally from the five congressional districts as they existed in 1990. The state lost a congressional seat in 2000.

Some feared that because the initiative process had been struck down by the Supreme Court, a future court ruling also could invalidate the eminent domain initiative. The bill passed during the 2022 session alleviates those concerns.

Voters in 2011 also approved an initiative requiring a government-issued photo identification to vote. Voter ID was not viewed as being in jeopardy because of the May 2021 Supreme Court ruling since it was approved by the Legislature after it was approved by voters in 2011.

While all three initiatives are now safe through action of the Legislature in spite of the Supreme Court ruling, the state no longer has an initiative process. The Legislature could not agree in the 2022 session on language to revive the process.

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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