Department of Health receives influx of applicants for medical marijuana licensing

Published 4:45 pm Monday, June 6, 2022

After the official launch of the Mississippi medical marijuana licensing system on Wednesday, June 1, the state has received an influx of registrants.

“I’m happy to report that we are up and running with both our licensing system and we’ll have more information on our seed-to-sale system that licensees will utilize,” said Kris Jones, director of the new Mississippi Medical Cannabis Program.

Jones said approximately 1,800 registrants have applied since the system’s launch and 85% of applicants were patients. In addition, 15 businesses and nine practitioners have applied for licenses and 12 people have applied for work permits.

“That information is under review right now and the system itself is growing daily,” Jones said.

Although the licensing system is online, department officials anticipate the dispensaries and facilities will come online “a little bit later.”

“We anticipate that it will probably be the end of the calendar year before there is a legal product that is available through the dispensaries and that is because businesses have to get established, they have to hire and they have to get crops in the ground,” said Jones.

There are seven different categories of regulations for medical cannabis as part of the Mississippi Administrative Code. The seven categories of regulations can be found on the Mississippi Secretary of State’s website at www.sos.ms.gov or the MSDH’s website at msdh.ms.gov.

The regulations will cover cannabis testing facilities, the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Program registry, marketing and advertising, cannabis cultivation and processing facilities, transport entities, medical cannabis waste management and cannabis workers.

Those who wish to work in the medical cannabis industry must be 21 years or older and must have a background check and fingerprinting to apply.

Applications for cannabis cultivation, processing, and cannabis waste management facilities are now available and can be found on the MSDH’s website. All applications and pre-application checklists can be found on the site as well.

The Mississippi Department of Revenue is in charge of licensing businesses for the MMCP. Licensing will begin on July 1, 2022.

The MSDH’s Medical Cannabis page also lists general information, outlines, checklists and links for the various licenses for medical practitioners, patients and caregivers, facilities or services for those looking to register and apply.

“Before you log into the [licensing] portal, whether you’re logging in as a business entity or as a patient who is seeking information or as a practitioner who wants to register with the program, that you review the website first because it gives you some tips on that process and also takes you through the pre-application checklist …,” said Jones.

For a patient to qualify for the MMCP, they will have to schedule an in-person visit with a Mississippi-licensed medical practitioner and those patients will have to meet a list of qualifying conditions.

“At this time the law does not allow for telehealth or telemedicine, so it does have to be an in-person visit with that practitioner,” Jones said. “It’s really important to remember there is a relationship between the patient and the practitioner so that there is ongoing treatment that is available and ongoing follow-up that is available throughout this course.”

During the visit, the patient will make their wish to participate in MMCP and then the practitioner can look into applying and completing the medical certification for the patient’s qualifying condition. The state health department must have the practitioner’s certification in order to process the patient’s application.

Once a patient completes their application, the state health department has five days to review and approve it. After approval, the patient will receive an identification card that is specific to a one-year period, unless limited by the practitioner for a lesser time frame, and they can then select the dispensary in the area they wish to purchase from.

The approval process for businesses and facilities will take up to 30 days, said Jones.

The MSDH is partnering with the Mississippi Cannabis Patients’ Alliance to compile a list of participating practitioners who want to be publicized in the registry. Visit the MCPA’s site at www.mscannapatient.com.

To learn more about licensing or to apply for a medical cannabis license, visit the MSDH’s page on the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Program. For further questions, contact MMCP Director Kris Jones at (601) 206-1540 or MSMedicalCannabis@msdh.ms.gov.