- D.H. Reilly
Cities and Counties Opting Out of Medical Marijuana
Updated: Jun 21, 2022
Don’t let the headline alarm you! If you’re a Mississippian with a qualifying condition, you’ll be able to get a Mississippi Marijuana Card once the state’s market is open.
However, some cities have chosen to opt-out of the state’s program, meaning medical marijuana businesses will not be allowed to operate within those cities.
But the good news is that not many cities so far have chosen to do so and it will still be legal for patients in those cities to purchase and use medical marijuana, they’ll just have to purchase it elsewhere. It’s also possible that the residents of those cities may be able to force their towns to opt back into the state’s medical marijuana program.
Few Mississippi Communities Have Opted Out of Medical Marijuana
Although there is still time for more to join the list, so far only a few communities have chosen to opt-out of the state’s medical marijuana program.
According to the radio news network SuperTalk Mississippi Media, the cities that have opted out are:
According to the Southern Sentinel, Tippah County has also joined that list.
It is still possible for other cities and communities to join the list, but we hope that doesn’t happen.
Cities and Counties Have Until May 3, 2022 to Opt Out of Mississippi Medical Marijuana Program
The Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act allows local communities 90 days from the law’s passage to decline marijuana businesses from opening within their jurisdiction. The deadline for doing so is May 3, 2022.
Any communities that haven’t opted out by then will be automatically considered to have opted in. That gives the state around a month to finalize the processes and procedures related to the licensing of marijuana businesses and patients. According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, the state will begin accepting license applications from patients, medical practitioners, and facilities for cannabis growers, processors, transporters, and retailers.
So far, there isn’t a big rush of communities adding themselves to the opt-out list. According to the Vicksburg Post, the Warren County Board of Supervisors has been discussing how to proceed under the new law, and so far the board hasn’t heard from any residents who’d like to see the county elect to opt out.
“For what it’s worth, I've had one or two people reach out hoping we will not opt out,” Kelle Barfield, the president of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, told the Post. “One gentleman called me and explained that his wife has Alzheimer’s and that (medical marijuana) apparently gives her relief. I’ve had no one come and ask that we opt out.”
Counties and Their Cities May Take Different Approaches to Medical Marijuana
According to Blake Teller, the Warren County Attorney, a city may select to opt into the state’s program even if its county has chosen to opt out, and vice versa. Furthermore, communities may reverse their decision to opt out or in at any time.
City and County Residents Have Options if Their Communities Opt Out of Mississippi Medical Marijuana Program
According to the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act, the citizens of counties and cities that opt out of the state’s program may take steps to force their participation.
First, unsatisfied citizens will have to submit a formal petition with signatures of support from 1,500 citizens of the jurisdiction in question or of 20% of the jurisdiction’s population, whichever number is lower.
Once a petition has been submitted, the city or county in question will have to hold a special election to allow the voters their say. If the voters elect to opt out, medical marijuana advocates would have to wait two year before making another effort at a special election. If the voters elect to opt in, their status as a participating jurisdiction would be permanent.
Both Medical Marijuana Advocates and Critics Are Taking Action on the Opt In/Out Question
While few communities have chosen to opt out thus far, advocates on both sides of the medical marijuana debate have been taking action to support their cause.
For example, the Mississippi Cannabis Trade Association (MSCTA) sponsored a signature drive in Ridgeland in an effort to force an opt-in election there.
“The leadership of another city that Medical Cannabis is extremely popular in has decided to opt-out of the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act,” MSCTA representative Melvin Robinson III said in a press release announcing the signature drive. “As disappointing as that can be for citizens looking for access to an alternative form of healthcare, we are prepared to assist and make sure patients and businesses have access to a robust program.”
According to WLBT, Jackson’s NBC affiliate, dozens of Ridgeland residents stopped by the drive to add their signatures to the petition.
But opponents of medical marijuana have also been trying to encourage their communities to opt out. For example, the Picayune Item reports that Sheriff David Allison asked the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors to opt out, saying that some of the burden of enforcing dispensary and cultivation facility regulations may fall on local law enforcement, increasing his staff’s workload.
Similarly, Sheriff James Brumfield of Pike County asked supervisors there to opt out, even though medical marijuana is popular among voters in the county. In fact, 11,000 of Pike County’s 15,400 residents voted in favor of Initiative 65, the 2020 ballot initiative that would have created a medical marijuana market here, but it was overturned by the state Supreme Court.
It’s disappointing to see an elected official attempt to circumvent the will of nearly three-quarters of his jurisdiction’s voters, but at least we’re confident that the political will exists in Pike County to force an opt-in election, should the board heed Brumfield’s request.
If enough voters want something, politicians can’t deny them for long. And ever since the passage of Initiative 65, Mississippi voters have been telling their representatives that they want medical marijuana.
Remember, Even if Your Community Opts Out, You Can Still Get a Mississippi Marijuana Card
If you live in an opt-out community, you’ll still be able to purchase medical marijuana. You’ll just need to get a Mississippi Marijuana Card and travel to a neighboring opt-in community.
Reserve an evaluation online today, and we’ll schedule an appointment for you with one of our highly trained, compassionate cannabis doctors just as soon as Mississippi’s medical marijuana market is up and running!
You’ll meet with your new doctor virtually, using your smartphone or computer for a telemedicine appointment. You and your doctor will discuss your conditions so that they can determine whether you qualify for a Mississippi Marijuana Card. And you’ll do it all without even leaving your home! Not only that, but by making your reservation today, you can save $25 off the cost of the evaluation!
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Helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
If you have any questions, call us at (833) 781-6635, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!