Advocates are pushing back on cities opting out of allowing medical marijuana businesses

Advocates push back on cities opting out
Published: Mar. 7, 2022 at 8:11 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi cities and counties have until May 3 to decide whether they’ll opt-out of allowing medical marijuana businesses, the City of Brandon becoming the latest city to opt out.

The Board of Alderman voted 5-2 Monday night. Advocates say that’s why their work hasn’t slowed down since the governor signed the bill.

You’ve seen how the grassroots movement worked for Initiative 65. Again, advocates came together after the Supreme Court struck it down. They rallied and pushed for the legislature and governor to take action. Now, those same advocates are finding a new purpose.

“The battle is continuing,” said Mississippi Cannabis Patients Alliance Founder and CEO.

Angie Calhoun’s son is the reason she’s fighting. He left the state to seek out medical marijuana before. She wants to make sure patients can access the treatment close to home.

“So, what happens to our patients if our cities start opting out?” asked Calhoun. “What if they have to drive three hours as a sick person to get their medicine? If those dispensaries are that limited, you can bet there will be long lines as well for them to get medicine. Don’t put this burden upon the patient’s back.”

Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association is answering questions for those looking to establish a business within the new industry. So, they too, are hoping to fill in the gaps for local officials unsure of what that will look like.

“We still recommend to all of our members as they join you, the first thing you need to do is talk to your local officials before you even consider talking with us at 3MA,” described Ken Newburger, Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association Executive Director. “But even those that have, I think there’s a lot of uncertainty and unnecessary fear behind this program. And they’re starting to walk back. And it’s just reaffirming people, this is normal. This is medicine, and it’s coming.”

Other groups are picking up the torch to help citizens in those cities that have already said no.

“So, the threshold is, you would need 20% of the population of the area, or 1500 signatures, whichever is the least amount to actually hold a special election,” explained Melvin Robinson with The Mississippi Cannabis Trade Association.

The Mississippi Cannabis Trade Association is helping citizens make that happen.

“We’re holding the petition drives in various locations, in cities and municipalities that feel the need that they have to opt-out,” added Robinson.

Ridgeland and Pass Christian have already opted out.

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