Mississippi Medical Cannabis Ruling Stalls Millions of Investment Dollars

Following the Mississippi Supreme Court’s decision last week to overturn the state’s successful medical cannabis legalization initiative, millions of investment dollars into the state’s economy have been effectively stalled.

Full story after the jump.

After the Mississippi Supreme Court threw out the state’s successful medical cannabis legalization initiative I-65 last week, deeming the voter-approved measure “unconstitutional” on the grounds that the state’s ballot initiative process is flawed, the Department of Health said it is stopping program development. The agency said it would help the legislature, which failed to pass a replacement bill this session, to develop a new “statutory” program instead, WLBT reports.

But the sudden halt has put Mississippi‘s emerging medical cannabis industry in jeopardy by stalling millions of investment dollars, according to a Mississippi Today report.

Companies like Colorado-based Grow Generation and Southern Sky Brands have stopped plans to lease land and build new facilities, delaying millions of investment dollars in the Deep South state’s economy. Quentin Whitwell, who owns a testing laboratory in Marshall County and is waiting to hire employees, told Mississippi Today, “Tens of millions of dollars have already been spent in anticipation of the program and hundreds of millions of dollars have been raised. The state stands to lose one of its highest GDP producing industries because of a politically driven court decision.”

Supporters of I-65 — the state’s successful but overturned medical cannabis initiative — including Ken Newburger, executive director of the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association (MMMA), are requesting a special legislative session to pass a replacement bill.

“This is not only an affront to voters, but to patients and to the businesses and people who were investing in Mississippi, ready to open in Mississippi. They’re all, at worst, at a loss and, at best, a time lag.” — Newburger, via Mississippi Today

Cindy Ayers-Elliott — the owner of Footprint Farms, an urban farm in Jackson — has continued to plan for the eventual arrival of medical cannabis. She believes that the business of cannabis will help raise Mississippi’s communities of color.

“It’s a clear pathway as an economic engine to help create entrepreneurs, more business owners, more opportunities for a new caliber of training for our workforce, so we can have a livable wage in this state. Something is wrong with the jobs we have here and we continue to repress opportunities,” Ayers-Elliott said in the report.

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