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  • D.H. Reilly

How Mississippi's New Medical Marijuana Program Will Benefit the Economy

Medical marijuana is on its way to Mississippi, bringing a whole lot of relief for a whole lot of people who have been suffering from qualifying conditions.

The giant economic benefits of medical marijuana also won’t hurt!

Back in June, we predicted how Mississippi would likely benefit economically from medical marijuana, and we’re already seeing evidence of that windfall.

Medical Marijuana Means Big Business for Mississippi

The trends developing now indicate that the establishment of a medical marijuana market here is going to mean big business for the Magnolia State. And even better, some of that big business will include investments in facilities that have been sitting vacant and contributing nothing to the state economy.

The Commercial Dispatch reports that developers have been eyeing properties undesirable by current market standards, because they’ll suit the needs of medical marijuana businesses just fine. As a result, local economies should see massive influxes of capital.

Golden Triangle Development LINK CEO, Joe Max Higgins, told the Dispatch that he first realized the potentially massive economic benefits of medical marijuana two years ago when investors began touring available sites in anticipation of the passage of Initiative 65, the medical marijuana ballot initiative that Mississippians passed and the state Supreme Court killed.

Facilities Unsuitable for Most Industries Work Fine for Medical Marijuana

“We had people coming in looking for 50,000 square feet up to 200,000 square feet,” Higgins said. “I realized this is a good thing because the buildings they were looking at have been dormant and vacant for years. They’re not really the world-class buildings today’s industry would want to occupy. One of the things that is happening is the ceiling heights industry want are going higher, up to 38 feet. But a lot of these old buildings are 22-foot. That’s not a problem for grow houses. So, because of that, it gives us the ability to market some of these older buildings.”

Local Economies Stand to See Massive Revenue Boosts

Higgins also told the Dispatch that it isn’t just the current owners of dormant properties who stand to gain from a medical marijuana boom. He said local economies will also reap dividends from Mississippians’ desire to ease the suffering of their fellow Hospitality State residents.

“The capital investment is high,” Higgins said. “For the biggest operations, 200,000 square feet, you’re looking at a capital investment of $150 million to $175 million. You can sort of use that number as a scale. The other thing is that it’s safe to say nobody’s going to offer any tax abatements for these operations, so they’ll be paying full school and city/county taxes. It could be a pretty big shot in the arm.”

“Mom and Pop” Entrepreneurs Also Looking to Buy into Medical Marijuana Program

It isn’t just faceless corporations who are looking to profit from medical marijuana in Mississippi. Small, family-owned businesses are also looking to invest in the state’s nascent cannabis market.

In another article, the Dispatch spoke with a couple of Columbus-area sisters who are looking to put their family’s entrepreneurial spirit to work in the cannabis business. Deneisha and Amber Glenn own a human resources firm, and they’re planning to build and operate a medical marijuana dispensary on some family-owned land.

They feared they wouldn’t have the opportunity to do so and not just because they were unsure if the state would ever have a medical marijuana market.

“We went to a medical marijuana conference and there were probably a thousand people there, but we only saw about 10 Black people,” Deneisha said. “What we realized is that in some states it is so expensive that a lot of Black people really don’t have a chance.”

And it’s not just Black people who might have been locked out of the medical marijuana industry here. Deneisha also learned that some other states have created cannabis markets where the start-up fees preclude any small-time investors from participation.

“Some states said you have to have $1 million in the bank and application fees were ridiculous, $100,000 in New Jersey and Maryland, Deneisha said. “We came away more determined than ever, but at the same time, we didn’t know if barriers would be too high for us to meet.”

Legislators Carved Space for Small Investors in Mississippi’s Medical Marijuana Law

Ken Newburger, the executive director for the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association, told the Dispatch that the MMMA also worried that the “little guys” would be left out in the cold when the state’s medical marijuana market was created.

“We were really committed to making the industry accessible to smaller operators,” Newburger said, explaining that the MMMA made that concern a major component of their lobbying efforts. “I have to give a lot of credit to Senator Blackwell and Representative Lamar for their work, especially in this area. The legislation has a sliding scale of fees based on the size of the operation. That allows for companies of all sizes to have an opportunity.”

New Medical Marijuana Businesses Means New Jobs for Mississippi

And of course a rush of entrepreneurs looking to establish medical marijuana businesses here also means new employment opportunities for Mississippians.

Jackson’s ABC affiliate, WAPT, spoke with Steve Merritt who helped establish marijuana businesses around the country. He is now in Mississippi helping local company Southern Skies Brands get their cannabis operation up and running. Southern Skies plans to open five dispensaries around the state and sell medical marijuana to other dispensaries. Merritt said the company will be making significant investments, hiring and training 125-200 employees.

“We know we are going to spend an exorbitant amount of money training people,” Merritt said. "There are a lot of skills involved. You can't hire those. It's not around. They've already been snatched up by other states."

Southern Skies began putting money into their cannabis plans when the Supreme Court killed Initiative 65. Company co-founder, Justin Mahfouz, told WAPT that it had been a stressful year, and they were waiting to see if the company would have to cut their losses.

“We've been sitting on the sidelines, and at some point, it becomes a significant business risk,” Mahfouz said.

Investors Hope to Help Mississippians While Profiting from Medical Marijuana

But Mahfouz adds that this isn’t just about dollars and cents to him and his partners.

“The core group of our guys are from Mississippi and we felt like this was a great opportunity to bring homegrown products to hometown patients,” Mahfouz told WAPT. "We are all Mississippi guys, kind of a hometown, home state feel.”

And they want to bring home state relief as well. “We are beginning to realize this plant touches a lot of receptors all over our body. It is really tremendous medicine,” Merritt told WAPT.

“I don't want to just sell (Mississippians) weed. I want to show them how the medicine can change their life,” Merritt said.

Ready to Change Your Life? Get Started on Your Medical Marijuana Journey Today!

Mississippi has waited long enough for medical marijuana. Why should you wait any longer to start finding the relief you deserve?

Reserve an evaluation online today with one of our compassionate doctors, and we’ll book an appointment for you just as soon as Mississippi’s medical marijuana market is up and running. You won’t have to wait any longer than necessary to start finding relief, and you’ll save $25 off the cost of your evaluation!

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