The Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act went into effect Friday, creating a new way for Mississippi residents with chronic illnesses to receive medical treatment.
The bill would create a medical marijuana program for people with serious medical conditions such as cancer, AIDS and sickle cell disease.
Patients with fatal or debilitating illnesses or medical conditions that produce cachexia, chronic pain, seizures, severe or intractable nausea, or severe and persistent muscle spasms may also be eligible for the program.
Initiative 65 nearly brought medical cannabis to Mississippi. A large majority of Mississippi residents supported the 65 initiative when it was put into place on the November 2020 ballot, but was rejected by the state Supreme Court which ruled the ballot process outdated.
However, supporters of the initiative pushed 65 in local communities and legislative offices for the legalization of medicinal cannabis in the 2022 legislative session, and they certainly emerged victorious when Governor Tate Reeves signed the state’s medicinal cannabis bill into law on February 2.
For Initiative 65 proponents like Hemp Ville CBD founder and president Tony Barragan, this moment is long overdue.
“We made history in Mississippi,” Bargan said. “People thought Mississippi would be the last state to ever see medical marijuana and we’re 38th. I have to credit that, not just to the people who voted for Initiative 65 but to our legislators who put this program together and passed it, and they gave these people and patients what they voted for And what they deserve.”
Bargan describes this as a win-win for those who suffer from illnesses and need treatment.
“They deserve to have this alternative form of medicine, to cure themselves of whatever disease that may be,” he said. “So, to me, it’s very rewarding. There’s been all this hard work that’s been put into this medical marijuana project since we’ve been collecting autographs. So it’s triumphant. It’s a sense of victory.”
Now Barragan is working quickly to acquire his new medical cannabis company, Hybrid Relief, LLC. ,.
“We do it vertically,” he said. “We grow, extract, process and distribute. We do everything – from sea to shelf – and even make our own foods and things like that. “
The The Mississippi Department of Revenue will begin accepting and reviewing applications for licenses to operate medical cannabis at 8 a.m. on July 5. MDOR will then issue the licenses within 30 days of receiving the completed application, including all required information and documentation.
The day before the law went into effect, Barragan was busy filling out separate business authorization applications for each facility in preparation for July 5. Barragan will also have to pay a separate licensing fee for each facility.
According to MDOR, the first-year license fee costs $40,000 and annual renewal costs $25,000.
The City of Oxford will also issue licenses for the medical cannabis business. The City Clerk office will begin the application process and issue licenses for the medical cannabis business on July 7, 30 days after the Oxford Council. The municipal council approved the creation of a new license.
Medical cannabis business owners must obtain a commercial cannabis franchise license from the city clerk, obtain the necessary approvals to use medicinal cannabis as required by the city’s Land Development Act, and finally, obtain a medical cannabis business license from the city clerk.
City officials have limited license fees to a one-time payment of $1,500 and an annual renewal fee of $1,000.
One of the benefits of the medical cannabis industry is that it will boost the Mississippi economy, however, Bargan is concerned about the labor shortage crisis in the United States
“It’s good for the economy but let’s not forget how hard it is to find employees at the moment,” he said. Those who wish to work in the medical cannabis industry must be 21 years of age or older and must have a background check and fingerprints to apply.
“Just because it’s weed doesn’t mean people are going to get out of the woodwork and queue,” Bargan said.
Although he worries about having enough hands on deck to make his business run at full steam, Bargan hopes things will start on time.
“I think many of us will be ready to grow on time,” Bargan said. “We will have a harvest before the end of the year.”
According to officials, the products will not be readily available until later once the cannabis has been grown, processed and tested.
“I think it will be the end of December or the first weeks of January before you see any products on the shelves,” Bargan said.