Medical marijuana business and potential patient react to proposed program regulations

Published: Apr. 18, 2022 at 8:15 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Late fall or early next year is the earliest that medical marijuana is expected to be available for patients in Mississippi. It may be signed into law, but the regulations are still being set up and some think the proposed rules are taking it too far.

When medical marijuana businesses get up and running, you likely won’t see much about them unless you’re seeking out that information.

“One of the arguments that was made a lot was that well, I go to these other states, and I see billboards on every sign and every corner, and on the end, your children are going to see the billboards,” described co-founder and COO of Kelly’s Green Chad King. “That was never a part of this, that had even been prohibited in the draft regulations last year. So, it’s sort of like, I guess it was like a fear tactic or something. But all of these what-if scenarios are certainly not here. We have a very, very regulated stringent program.”

Within the proposed regulations, no billboards, tv ads, or mass emails to customers for any reason, and a requirement for any employee to apply for and buy a work permit.

“I think it’s a lot of just overreaction, and maybe creating problems that don’t exist and like perpetuating this fear out there of what’s about to happen,” noted King. “And it’s just not — it’s not a realistic or a rational fear. And so I hope that in that, in that pursuit of that, that they don’t just ruin the program for patients that need it. Because at the end of the day, that’s what it’s about. It’s about the patients.”

Meanwhile, the patients who will be seeking out those products are waiting.

“A lot of us have suffered physically,” noted Bethany Hill. “There were a few times that I was so rundown that after a rally or something, I spent days in bed. I couldn’t even get up. And that’s the reality.”

Bethany Hill moved back to Mississippi after leaving to seek out medical marijuana in other states where it was already legal.

“I still have to worry every day about being a criminal if I choose to medicate, and that’s a really hard decision to make every single day,” she noted.

Hill has been lobbying for the program and says she feels hopeful as the waiting continues. She notes that word of mouth and the community that’s already started forming will help overcome the regulations as they’re currently proposed.

As a reminder, no medical cannabis will be allowed to be transported into the state. So, it will all have to be grown here. That is the other reason for the continued waiting game, even once all the regulations are approved.

The Department of Revenue has a separate set of proposed regulations for dispensaries. That public comment period is open until April 29. The Department of Health’s public comment period for the first three regulations on the other cannabis-related businesses closed on April 15.

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