Mississippi Legalizes Medical Cannabis: Key Takeaways from the MMCA
By Sally Kent Peebles
Feb 3, 2022
Patients of Mississippi rejoice! Governor Reeves signed the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act (the MMCA) on February 2, 2022, which legalizes the use of medical marijuana by registered patients suffering from a broad range of medical conditions. The MMCA is poised to achieve what no other southern state has yet to accomplish—the development of a refreshingly non-competitive licensed program that should allow for greater patient access and lower barriers to entry for those interested in participating in this exciting industry.
The MMCA tasks the Mississippi Department of Health (the MDOH) to develop a comprehensive commercial program wherein licensees will be able to cultivate, process, sell, transport, dispose of, research, and test medical marijuana. The Mississippi Department of Revenue (the MDOR) will issue medical cannabis dispensary licenses, with the MDOH issuing all other license types.
Key Takeaways from the 445-page Act:
License Structure: Vertical integration is permitted, but not required.
Non-Competitive Application Process: There is no limit on the number of cannabis facility licenses the state will issue, however, no individual or entity may have a direct or indirect ownership or economic interest of more than 10% in more than one cultivation facility license, one processing facility license, or more than five dispensary licenses.
Residency Requirement: There is a three-year residency requirement for an individual to apply for a facility license, and for business entities, it will be required that at least 35% of the entity’s equity ownership is held by a three-year Mississippi resident. For micro-cultivators and micro-processors, that percentage goes up to 100%.
Local Jurisdiction Considerations: Local jurisdictions will be permitted to opt out of allowing licensed facilities within their boundaries but must do so within 90 days of the effective date of the law. If they decide to allow licensed businesses, they may then enact reasonable time, place and manner restrictions.
Setbacks: No cannabis establishment may be within 1000 feet of a school, childcare facility or church, though a waiver can be sought to lower that to 500 feet. Dispensaries must be a minimum of 1500 feet from each other.
Concentration Limits: A medical cannabis establishment shall not sell cannabis flower or trim that has a potency of greater than 30% total THC. A medical cannabis dispensary shall not sell cannabis tinctures, oils or concentrates that have a potency of greater than 60% total THC.
The MMCA requires that after 120 days from the effective date of the MMCA, the MDOH shall begin issuing licenses for cultivation, processing, testing, research, disposal, and transportation within 30 days of receiving an application.
Starting 150 days from the effective date of the MMCA, the MDOR will begin issuing licenses for medical cannabis dispensaries within 30 days of receiving an application.
This means that both rules and applications may be released in the next couple of months.
If you're interested in submitting a license application to get your business started—or to expand—in Mississippi, now is the time to begin the initial steps. Vicente Sederberg LLP is a national leader in cannabis business licensing and can assist you throughout the process, from initial planning to application submission and beyond.