Mississippi – The Newest Licenses No One is Talking About

Lisa
May 13, 2022

June Medical Marijuana Applications in Mississippi?

by Sumer Thomas, Director of Regulatory Operations

In our last Mississippi blog post, we gave a rundown of everything you need to know concerning dates, requirements, and ownership limitations for Mississippi medical marijuana licenses. The state still intends to begin accepting online license applications by June 2022 (per the statutory requirements) for cultivation, processing, and testing facilities—or at least that’s what the website says—and by July for dispensaries. There’s still a lot of work for the Departments to do before then, and a ton of planning for potential business owners to get in order. 

New Regulations

In the middle of April 2022, the Mississippi Department of Health (MSDH) released regulations for testing, marketing advertising, and work permits. Similar regulations had previously been released pursuant to the 2020 ballot passage (that was struck down by the MS Supreme Court). 

In late April 2022, the Mississippi Department of Revenue (MDOR) released proposed regulations, which are for dispensaries only. The public comment period is through April 29 and comments can be made on the MDOR website. The draft regs address some of the big questions like the 1,500 feet requirement between dispensaries, the application process, and security plans. 

The dispensary application requires location and zoning information, a floor plan and site plan, and an operating plan that demonstrates compliance with applicable laws and rules regarding: 

  • Security
  • Employee qualifications (including background checks, and training)
  • Record-keeping systems
  • Hours of operation
  • Preventing non-cardholders under the age of 21 from entering the licensed premises
  • Preventing non-cardholders from obtaining or attempting to obtain any items sold by the dispensary

Order of Operations

Mississippi put out dispensary regulations for application and licensing prior to cultivation or processing, though cultivation and processing applications license applications are set to be accepted 30 days before dispensary applications. This is likely due to a division of duties and lack of coordination between agencies, with MDOR overseeing dispensary regulation while MSDH will oversee cultivation and processing. No word yet on when further cultivation and processing regulations are expected from MSDH. Vertical operations are statutorily permitted, however, no mechanism has yet been made available to apply for dispensary, processing, and cultivation licenses all at once. 

If the state is still planning to get applications out in June or July, they will need to release and finalize regulations quickly, release an application, and start reviewing in a hurry. Because the application review process is first-come, first-serve, and real estate goes to the first in line, it’s best to get your major business aspects and documentation in order now in anticipation of a quick-moving process. 

Opting Out

Keep in mind that municipalities have the option to opt out of any part of the program within ninety days of when the bill was signed into law on February 2, 2022 (making May 3, 2022 the last day), and we’ve seen jurisdictions exercising that right. Mississippi saw several municipalities vote to opt out of the state’s medical cannabis program, the first being Pass Christian, followed by Ridgeland. The final tally of opt-outs at the deadline was 28 cities and 16 counties opting out at some level.

As we’ve seen recently in other states, like New Jersey and New York, opting out isn’t set in stone. Many towns will opt out now, since final rules aren’t available, and opt back in later. Mississippi residents can also petition for an election to overrule the local decision. Even if a city opts out, medical patients would still be able to purchase in a city that allows medical cannabis retailers and consume the product at home.

Because of the varying sentiments among jurisdictions, it’s crucial that you garner support from your city and/or county before making major business or financial decisions based on a proposed location. 

Next Steps

For future cultivators and processors, applications are slated for June, but the course is still hazy since we are missing most of the regulations and the application itself. For those who want to be first to market, lining up local support ASAP will be crucial to starting up seamlessly. 

For potential dispensary owners, applications are planned for July, and you have a clearer path to get planning. The statute and draft regulations for your operations are both available. We’re still waiting on the application itself with parameters and due dates. At this point, you can form your business entity, gather team information, garner local support, secure a location, and make a plan for compliant operations. 

Contact our license application experts today for help with your Mississippi cannabis license.

Register for our Mississippi webinar on July 12.

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