US (MS): Concerns grow as cities opt out of medical cannabis program

A handful of cities and towns have voted that for now, they are opting out of participating in Mississippi’s nascent medical cannabis program that was signed into law just over a month ago.

Under the law, any town, city, or county governing board has up to 90 days, or until the first week of May, to vote against allowing dispensaries, cultivators, or production facilities from operating within those jurisdictions. These localities have the option to opt back in at a later date.

So far, only a small number of cities and towns have chosen not to participate including the cities of Brandon, Ridgeland, Pass Christian, and Gluckstadt. But advocates fear this could signal that more communities will follow suit, ultimately creating access issues for patients and limiting the number of businesses able to operate successfully in the burgeoning industry.

While the program was signed into law by Gov. Tate Reeves on Feb. 2, it will likely take several more months for businesses to get up and running. The Mississippi State Department of Health is tasked with overseeing the rules and regulations of the program and will start taking license applications from businesses, patients, and practitioners starting in June. Department of Health officials said in a notice that products likely won’t be available until the end of the year. 

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