- D.H. Reilly
Mississippi Medical Marijuana Cultivators Continue To Launch New Operations Despite Challenges
We support medical marijuana for Mississippi because of the relief it can bring to suffering patients with qualifying conditions, but there are plenty of other benefits for a state that embraces the medical side of cannabis.
For example, there are the economic benefits a state gains from medical marijuana, which we told you about last year and which we’re already seeing come to Mississippi.
And even now, with a growing number of communities opting out of medical marijuana, cannabis investors are eager to pour investment capital into the state. That shouldn’t be a surprise, though. After all, investors weren’t shying away from Mississippi even when medical marijuana’s fate here was uncertain. Unfortunately, the state would likely be seeing even more investments if it weren’t for those holdout communities.
Communities Opting Out of Medical Marijuana Continues to Grow As May 3 Deadline Approaches
We’ve already told you that some communities are exercising their right to opt out of medical marijuana. Residents of those towns and counties will still be able to purchase and use medical marijuana, but there will be no marijuana businesses operating within their communities, meaning they can still find relief, but it will be more inconvenient and costly for them to do so considering the time and expense associated with traveling to dispensaries.
Unfortunately, the number of opt-out communities is continuing to grow as the deadline on opting out approaches, which may be putting a damper on the economic benefits of medical marijuana here in Mississippi.
“This was expected,” Slates Veazey, a Jackson attorney and expert in cannabis law, told Mississippi Today. “It’s something businesses and the industry have been watching closely. More cities are likely to do the same.”
Expected or not, it’s a trend that threatens to inconvenience many Mississippi patients, to say nothing of the millions of dollars in economic development that hang in the balance.
Company Looking to Invest Millions in Waveland, If City Doesn’t Opt-Out of Medical Marijuana
Consider the example of Waveland. A representative of ZenLabs, a nationwide supplier of CBD, recently told the city aldermen and mayor that the company would like to invest nearly $5 million in the community. ZenLabs would like to convert an unused bank building into the “finest medical cannabis dispensary on the Gulf Coast.”
The company’s proposal to the city also includes plans to hire 20-40 local workers for “high-paying” jobs and to build a cultivation facility adjacent to the dispensary. Company CEO John Newman told city officials “Our plan is to be offering, obviously, the largest selection and best prices of products.” He believes the facility could be operational and open by the end of the year.
Unfortunately, Newman also told Waveland officials that the company’s plans were jeopardized by the city’s ongoing debate over opting-out of Mississippi’s medical marijuana market. “We respectfully request that if there is some way you could issue an indication that Waveland will not opt out,” Newman said. “It would be a big benefit to us in terms of our planning and constructing, everything. We would very much like to be the first to open on the coast.”
Waveland officials told Newman that they would make a decision about opting out at the April meeting of the Waveland Board of Mayor and Aldermen. At that meeting, the decision was made to make a decision at the May meeting.
Smaller Cannabis Investments Also Stymied by Opt-Out Communities
While a $5 million investment hanging in the balance may be the biggest example of reluctance to embrace medical marijuana derailing development plans, it is far from the only example.
Around the state, more modest cannabis investors are seeing their business plans halted or delayed by communities that have either opted-out of medical marijuana or that continue to debate the issue.
For example, Mississippi Today reports that a Mississippi pharmacist has plans to open a dispensary in Brandon, but those plans have been in limbo as the city debates whether or not to welcome cannabis businesses.
Buell Polk owns a chain of local pharmacies and told the Brandon board of aldermen about his plan to build a dispensary in a long-vacant bank located near one of his Polk’s Drugs stores. He recently shared his plans with the Brandon Board of Alderman.
“I’ve been dispensing medicinals in Brandon and Rankin County well over 50 years,” he told the board. “I think I’m qualified. I’ve been dispensing drugs all these years…I think we can do a good job.”
Polk pointed out that it would be a boon to the city if an unused building turned into a thriving business. He also noted how convenient it would be for the patients of Brandon, pointing out that the dispensary would be near several assisted living facilities and nursing homes, the city’s major hospital, and four pharmacies.
Polk told the board that his dispensary would thus be centrally located for patients with severe or terminal conditions. “Give us the opportunity to help these people,” Polk said.
Opt-Out Communities, Zoning Regulations Frustrate New Businesses
Veazey told Mississippi Today that entrepreneurial plans are further complicated by the strict zoning requirements of Mississippi’s medical marijuana law. With some communities opting out altogether, and options for development locations in the remaining communities limited, the competition for the remaining, viable locations is going to be stiff.
Veazy said that some counties may rezone to accommodate new cannabis businesses, but some will not, and that uncertainty could chill some investors’ planning and spending. “Already, there are only so many pieces of property these businesses can be located,” he said.
Some Cannabis Entrepreneurs Working Around Legal Limitations
Fortunately, some cannabis entrepreneurs have been planning for Mississippi’s medical marijuana market for some time, and have grown their businesses so they’d be best positioned for success when the Magnolia State finally welcomed the medicine.
Mississippi Today reports that one owner of several CBD retail locations has been charting her growth with an eye towards transitioning medical marijuana once the state finally legalized the medicine.
DeAundrea Delaney and her husband run two Hemp World locations, one in Pearl and one in Jackson, and she has set up six shops working with other entrepreneurs through Hemp World’s store partnership program. Delaney said that she built her CBD businesses with medical marijuana in mind, watching how other states regulated cannabis businesses and making sure each of her CBD locations were compliant with the most common zoning requirements. She now plans to convert each of her locations to a medical marijuana dispensary.
“We’re on the cusp of a green economy here,” Delaney told Mississippi Today from inside a new Hemp World shop she helped open in Olive Branch. And she should know. As Mississippi Today put it, “Delaney and other entrepreneurs are investing hundreds of thousands — even millions, in some cases — to create the needed infrastructure to support it.”
Just imagine what she could do if some people let go of their outdated, fallacious stigmas, and embraced both the healing power and economic benefits of medical marijuana.
Don’t Just Imagine the Healing Benefits of Medical Marijuana. Find Out for Yourself!
Fortunately, Mississippians won’t have to wait much longer to learn just how healing medical marijuana can be, and they can start getting ready for it right now.
If you reserve an evaluation online today, we’ll book an appointment for you with one of our compassionate cannabis doctors just as soon as we’re cleared to. You’ll discuss your conditions with your doctor and learn if you qualify for a Mississippi Marijuana Card. Reserve an evaluation online today, and you’ll even save $25 off the cost of the appointment!
Doctors Who Care.
Relief You Can Trust.
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!