On January 26, 2022, the Mississippi Legislature gave its final approval to the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act (SB 2095), sponsored by Sen. Kevin Blackwell. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed the bill into law on February 2, 2022.
Vicente LLP hosted a webinar in mid-November discussing medical cannabis licenses. In the webinar, a variety of partners at the firm, as well as Harris Shelton, gave updates on the Mississippi medical cannabis industry.
Mississippi Licensing Structure
“Compared to other states, it’s a big deal that they made this decision to not place a limit on licenses, whereas in other states you have to apply for a competitive process, sometimes spending thousands of dollars on applications, and then waiting a year just to hear back,” Sally Kent Peebles, Partner, Vicente LLP, said starting off the webinar. “Instead, it’s a simple, streamlined application. It’s the only state in the South allowing for this type of open licensing structure.”
Here are the four different types of medical marijuana licenses that residents can apply for in the state:
- Retail Sales
- Testing and Research
According to Peebles, Mississippi has approximately 33,715 registered patients as of October 31, 2023 and there are 185 dispensaries in the state. The medical market projection within the state is expected to reach $373,403,732 by 2027.
Mississippi Licensing Requirements
Similar to other states, Mississippi law requires medical dispensaries to be 1,000 feet from schools, churches and childcare facilities. Colleen Mitchell, Licensing Project Manager, Vicente LLP, also noted that dispensaries need to be 1,500 feet away from each other.
Here are some other dispensary application requirements, as stated by Mitchell:
- Ownership restrictions: No entity or individual may have an economic interest greater than 10% in more than five dispensaries.
- Sales tax permit: Applicants must have a valid sales tax permit from the Department of Revenue (DOR) in order to apply.
- Plans in place: You need to have an operating and security plan ready for your dispensary.
One you receive your medical dispensary license, there are some operational compliance measures that need to be taken:
- Metrc registration: You must register for Metrc within 30 days of licensure, and all employees must complete the Metrc training.
- Employee work permits: All owners and employees, within seven days of hire, must obtain work permits.
- Employee training requirements: Eight hours of initial training, and five hours of continued annual training.
- Commencement inspection: Licensees must notify the DOR or MSDH of their intent to commence operations and pass the commencement inspection.
Opportunities for Mississippi Medical Marijuana Licenses
“Future Mississippi operators should consider processing, testing, transportation and dispensing licenses,” Dee Hobbs, Partner, Harris Shelton, said. “There are significantly less processing, testing and transportation licensees than cultivation licensees, which is an uncommon theme compared to other states.”
Currently, there are multiple counties and municipalities throughout Mississippi that do not allow medical dispensaries to operate in them. Hobbs suggested that some of these counties may opt back in, and as more jurisdictions allow cannabis businesses, licensing opportunities will increase.
“From the lobbying end, Mississippi hopes to go adult-use soon,” Hobbs stated. “Some lobbyists think it will happen in the 2024 legislative session, but I don’t believe that. Based on speaking with different professionals, I think that may happen two-to-three years from now.”