BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) – Mississippi’s Medical Cannabis Program hit a key benchmark on June 1. Patients can now apply for a Medical Marijuana Card and doctors are starting the process of registration and certification.
Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association Executive Director Ken Newburger told WLOX News the first few days went pretty much as planned. The hiccups they did see came mostly from people seeking clarification from the State Health Department regarding what sort of documentation needs to be submitted.
While the entire initiative is for the benefit of patients, they are the ones who will need to have the most patience. That’s because cultivation facilities, dispensaries, and physicians must all get certified first before any product can get to patients.
“Physicians and practitioners are still getting their side done. And because those are the people who will be giving certifications, it’s still going to be a while before patients have complete access,” Newburger said.
Here’s a look at the how the process works for patients:
Patients can go ahead and start the application process online with the State Department of Health. To see more on the requirements for a Medical Marijuana Card, including the list of qualifying medical conditions, click here: https://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/30,0,425.html
The Health Department also created a user guide to help lead you through the online portal. Find it here: https://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/resources/19089.pdf
Physicians, nurse practitioners, and optometrists may all participate in the medical cannabis program once they’re properly certified. The requirements on how to become certified are becoming a bit more clear.
“I have talked to a couple of people who will be certifying and they said they weren’t really aware of exactly what they needed to do to get registered to be a certifier,” Newburger said. “Now they’re kinda playing catch up on getting to know what courses they need to take, how they need to take them, and they how to get registered with the Department of Health.”
Here’s a list of frequently asked questions and answers about how practitioners register with the State Department of Health: https://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/resources/18748.pdf
All marijuana distributed in Mississippi must be cultivated indoors in secure facilities located in Mississippi. Newburger said the process of getting those grow sites up and running seems to be going well.
“Larger facilities seem to be very much underway. People across the state are building their actual physical structures. Once the cultivation regulations dropped about a week ago, people really started moving forward. Now that they have that and they can move forward on their building plans, they’re also submitted. So things from the business perspective are going pretty smoothly,” Newburger said.
Once it’s produced, the product needs a place to reach patients. Dispensaries are regulated through the State Department of Revenue. Applications for those licenses open on July 1, 2022.
Newburger said finding appropriate sites for dispensaries in Mississippi hasn’t been easy, but people are managing to find them in almost every major city, as well as rural areas.
“It’s very hard to find land. We’ve got searches all over the state. And so to be compliant with that 1,000-foot distance, it’s just hard to find a place for a dispensary. But people are finding them,” Newburger said.
The licensing process for a dispensary is a little simpler than a cultivation facility because, Newburger said, not as much scientific knowledge is needed. The most difficult part for dispensaries will be the security requirements, which he said are quite high.
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