Mississippi medical cannabis exclusion deadline expires

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May 4and celebrates Star Wars, and on May 5and is Cinco de Mayo. Although less popular, May 3rd still probably means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. But, in Mississippi, in 2022, May 3rd was a date circled on many calendars. As the first of several important milestones set out in Mississippi’s medical cannabis law, May 3rd was the last day municipalities or counties could opt out of the medical cannabis program. While the unsubscribes started months ago, supervisory boards and city councils have been busy in recent weeks as this withdrawal deadline approaches. Now that the date has passed, there is some finality to where licensed medical cannabis establishments can currently operate in Mississippi. This finality goes no further, however, as several municipalities that did not opt ​​out, or that opted out with re-listing plans, have adopted or are in the process of adopting local ordinances and zoning requirements that will govern the where the medical cannabis business can operate.

To be valid, all such rulings must satisfy Mississippi laws regarding municipal and county acts, and Mississippi law grants individuals and entities affected by county and city rulings, such as those to opt out or to adopt zoning regulations, certain rights and remedies. These laws, however, contain a landmine of filing deadlines and other requirements that any prospective medical cannabis business licensee, or other interested person or business, should be aware of.

Where are things now

As noted above and as we discussed previously, Section 30 of the Act allows counties and municipalities to opt out of the medical cannabis program within 90 days of its passage. The deadline to do so was May 3rd. Counties and municipalities that have taken no action are now, by default, in the medical cannabis program, making the cultivation, processing, sale and distribution of medical cannabis and cannabis products in these localities legal under the law. While a number of municipalities and counties have opted out, the majority of Mississippi is allowing operations to continue. Some of the municipalities and counties that have opted out include:

Municipalities:

  • Ridgeland

  • Brandon

  • Flora

  • Gluckstadt

  • Madison

  • Christian pass

  • Southaven

  • New Albany

  • Horn Lake

  • Green wood

  • Amory

  • Colombia

  • Lucedale

  • Ecru

  • Noxapater

  • Summary

  • Pontotoc

  • Petty

  • D’Iberville

  • clinton

Counties:

Other counties and cities are listed here. So we have a clear path ahead of us now, don’t we? Not so fast.

Special elections could nullify opt-outs

A number of signature drives are underway in localities that have opted out of the program, and if enough signatures are collected and appropriate petitions are filed, special elections could be held and void the withdrawals.

Some municipalities that opted out plan to re-enroll

A few cities, such as Southaven, New Albany and D’Iberville, that opted out have signaled their intention to return to the program after reviewing and adopting local zoning ordinances and regulations governing commercial medical cannabis establishments. Where medical cannabis businesses will operate in Mississippi will most certainly expand.

Counties and municipalities plan to regulate locally

You should consult more than statewide laws and regulations to find out how the municipality or county in which you hope to operate your medical cannabis establishment will govern your operations. Municipalities and counties that have elected to participate or plan to participate at a later date likely follow Mississippi attorney general’s advice and enact zoning ordinances or regulations and additional license and permit requirements. For example, Tupelo has already taken this step, and Southaven has announced plans to do so in the coming month.

So the landscape of the medical cannabis program in Mississippi is a bit clearer now than it was on May 3.rd has passed, but much remains unknown. What’s the takeaway?

Follow the local action and be ready to jump

Above all, you should monitor notices issued by the municipality or county in which you plan to operate a medical cannabis business relevant to your business activities. Mississippi law requires these local governments to publish notices regarding certain official business, including zoning changes. For example, be on the lookout for public notices that the county or municipality plans to hold a public meeting or hearing to discuss or change zoning ordinances or regulations governing medical cannabis businesses. The form of public notice may depend on the proposed action, but common types of notices are posting on or around the affected property and posting in a local newspaper or other public forum. If you are unsure how the notice is given, call the municipality or county to find out. Second, if such a notice is published, you must plan to attend that meeting. and be very aware of when the locality officially takes action to pass any ordinances, regulations, or permit and license requirements. Under Mississippi law, persons aggrieved by a decision of the board of supervisors or city council can challenge that decision in court through a bill of exceptions, but such a challenge must be filed within 10 days after this decision has been rendered, and the appeal record is expressly limited to the record of the meetings at which the issue(s) were discussed and the decision made. Therefore, if you object to an action taken by a municipality or county, you will need to ensure that you present all evidence associated with your objection at the meeting or public hearing and that such evidence is placed on file. by the government. body.

It is not yet clear whether an objection or challenge to a decision by a counsel or solicitor would fall under the provision of the law allowing an appeal of an ‘agency’ decision within 20 days. . in Miss. Code. Ann. Section 11-51-75.

Also note that not all opt-out decisions are reviewable at this stage. Again, a decision to opt out made in the past week is potentially subject to challenge if such grounds exist. Recall that the law itself required localities to comply with the open meeting law by providing notice of their intention to hold a vote regarding withdrawal.

Most readers of this article are expecting a very busy month of May, with expected application dates now less than 30 days away. But, if your list of action items doesn’t already include monitoring notices issued and decisions made by municipalities and counties regarding the medical cannabis program, it should be. Mississippi law grants affected individuals the right to challenge these decisions, but there is a very short window to do so.

© 2022 Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLPNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 125

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