Medical Marijuana

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 state 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 Mississippians 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 run 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 appeared 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 Mississippians would have approved Medicaid expansion had it reached the ballot this fall.

The only state 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 Legislature 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 appeared 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, state 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 state 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 scheduled 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 appeared 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 Clarion Ledger – 2022-06-02 06:28:25

JACKSON, Miss. — Former Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove is teaming up with a executive to apply for a state 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 Clarion Ledger – 2022-06-01 15:53:10

Mississippi’s program officially began Wednesday as the 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 state’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 state 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 Legislature 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 appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Coast legislators meet with business leaders

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www.wxxv25.com – Lorraine Weiskopf – 2022-05-24 20:48:07

The post-legislative briefing allows for legislators to directly communicate with the business community answering their questions and concerns.

Two monumental bills passed in the 2022 session – and the teacher pay raise.

Legislators explained how the bills will impact .

For example – with the teacher pay raise, this could be a deciding factor for where a business will start. A healthy…

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