Medical Marijuana Registration Opens in Mississippis Florida Forced to Lift Sales Ban Medical Marijuana Registration Opens in Mississippi as Florida Forced to Lift Sales Ban
Mississippi is set to begin licensing medical marijuana users and businesses by the end of the year. This will make it the 39th state in the US to legalize the popular recreational drug which is also seeing greater medicinal use.
Medical Marijuana Registration Opens in Mississippi
It wasn’t an easy road to get here for MMJ users in the deep south. In 2021 the Mississippi Supreme Court struck down legislation approved by voters to legalize medical marijuana. This was the first time a marijuana initiative was overturned after residents voted to approve it.
However, the reasoning was anything but palatable for marijuana users waiting eagerly to purchase the drug legally.
Six justices of the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that the initiative didn’t meet the state’s process requiring at least 20% of signatures to come from five congressional districts. The reason was that Mississippi doesn’t have five districts, but only four after the 2000 Census, and it has not been updated since.
Voters waited patiently and the state passed a medical cannabis law in January 2022 which would essentially jumpstart the MMJ market. Among some of the restrictions included in the bill is a potency cap of 30% for THC for flowers and 60% for concentrates and oils.
More than 1,800 residents are currently registered for accounts on an online portal to be able to purchase the drug. Buyers will only be able to purchase 3 ounces of marijuana a month, however, but it is a big step forward.
Similarly, residents in other states are going online to register and buy cannabis products. Some of the trendy web retailers, notably one of Denver’s most popular online smoke shops, have seen spikes in traffic since such changes to law. Ecommerce growth is sure to be booming for those like ‘710 pipes‘ that are already listed on-line.
Cannabis Operators in Florida Face Ban
While the Deep South state prepares to enter the multi-million dollar MMJ market, cannabis-based businesses in other states are struggling to operate efficiently.
Earlier this year, Florida officials issued a memo to all medical marijuana businesses to discontinue their subscriptions with Leafly. The widely used website used to compare marijuana strains and find suppliers helped patients order from local businesses.
But the memo argued that gaining business through Leafly violated a 2017 law that outlined a structure for the Florida MMJ industry. This law required medical marijuana operators to oversee all aspects related to its sale, distribution, and cultivation.
According to the law, businesses who had subscriptions to Leafly were in violation.
“Contracting with Leafly.com, or any other third-party website, for services directly related to dispensing is a violation of this provision,” according to the Feb. 1 memo written by then Department of Health Chief of Staff Courtney Coppola.
Operators were compelled to cancel their subscriptions, which many if not all did, or face a $5,000 fine if they continued to use the website´s services.
Leafly helps cannabis businesses sell their product by allowing buyers to find them through their website. Users can look at different strains of characteristics of marijuana and view what is available at their nearest dispensary.
Alternately, marijuana dispensaries pay a subscription fee for Leafly to market, advertise, and facilitate ordering of their products.
However, Leafly Holdings, the Seattle Based company, argued that it was not dispensing products or accepting payments from users. Leafly filed a petition requesting an administrative law judge review the Florida rule to find it “unadopted and invalid”.
Judge Suzanne Van Wyk reviewed the ban and found that it amounted to an “unadopted” rule, ordering the state to “immediately discontinue reliance on its policy… regarding online ordering of medical marijuana through third-party websites.”
Before the memo, Leafly had subscriptions from 277 MMJ retail businesses throughout Florida. However, after most followed the state’s order, the company said it lost at least $300,000 from canceled contracts.