It may not seem like a big deal to the millions of Americans living in legal cannabis states, but Wednesday is huge for medical marijuana supporters in Mississippi. June 1 is the first day for medical marijuana patients to submit their applications for a card in the Magnolia State. Businesses will also be able to apply for licenses.
Long Time Coming
In February, Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed legislation into law, making Mississippi the 37th state to legalize medical marijuana. At the time the governor said, “There is no doubt that there are individuals in our state who could do significantly better if they had access to medically prescribed doses of cannabis.” Seventy-four percent of Mississippi voters approved the medical marijuana program.
Dropping Like Flies
At least 28 cities and a dozen counties have completely opted out of the medical marijuana program though, reported Mississippi Today, adding that the state’s health department is not keeping an official list of all the municipalities restricting cannabis businesses.
Ken Newburger, director of the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association, said the law itself did not include a directive for municipalities to report. At the same time, the lack of an official list should not embolden anyone to attempt to get around the system, he warned.
“If you try to open a dispensary in a city that has opted out, the local officials have every power to 1. Stop you and 2. Report you to the state,” Newburger said.
Each county’s decision to opt out only covers its unincorporated areas, meaning some cities within opt-out counties are still able to have businesses in the program. Patients who live in opt-out areas can still possess and use medical marijuana.
Meanwhile, Newburger said it will probably be late this year or early next year before patients can receive medical marijuana.
Once the application process begins, there will be a 30-day approval time for licensure applications and a five-day approval time for program patients. All applications will go through the Mississippi State Health Department and require a physician’s approval.
Licensing for medical cannabis dispensaries only will begin July 1 through the state Department of Revenue.