Amid a harrowing election week, the passage of Mississippi Initiative 65 is one result we knew on November 3rd. With nearly 74% of voters in favor of the initiative, medicinal cannabis legalization was overwhelmingly approved.
We recently highlighted Mississippi as a rising star in the world of legal cannabis, and we’re following its progress closely. Unfortunately, some lawmakers and elected officials are still vehemently opposed to the notion of cannabis legalization in the state.
Here’s what you need to know about what’s happening in Mississippi.
The Current Landscape of Cannabis Legalization
On Election Day, there were two cannabis-related measures on the ballot for Mississippi. The first measure had voters decide if medicinal cannabis would be legalized at all. The second measure had voters choose between two options for who medicinal cannabis would be available for should it be legalized.
The first option was Initiative 65, which was put on the ballot by more than 200,000 registered voters. This initiative defined who was permitted to use medicinal cannabis — patients with at least one of 22 predetermined medical conditions — as well as how much they could possess. It also established tax rates and laid the framework for licensing to be completed by August 2021.
The alternative was Initiative 65A, which was added to the ballot by the state legislature. Initiative 65A simply aimed to legalize medicinal cannabis for terminally ill patients. The rest of the details would be left up to state lawmakers. Initiative 65A didn’t pass.
A Politically Charged Climate at Odds with Public Opinion
This year, cannabis legalization took Mississippi by storm. With the vast majority of voters in favor of Initiative 65, the public’s appetite for medicinal cannabis is clear. However, cannabis still faces heavy opposition in the state as faith in previously robust anti-cannabis institutions has been shaken to its core. As a result, cannabis companies may face hostility from the 26% of voters who opposed Initiative 65.
Cannabis companies may have an especially tough time breaking into the market in the city of Madison. In fact, the mayor of Madison recently filed a lawsuit claiming Initiative 65 didn’t meet the state’s signature requirements. However, in a state Supreme Court filing, the Attorney General and Secretary of State for Mississippi both described the lawsuit as “woefully untimely” and seeking to overturn a legally and voter-approved ballot initiative.
Additionally, even Governor Tate Reeves shared his disdain for Initiative 65 on Twitter. In a tweet, Reeves described those in opposition of Initiative 65 as “non-stoners” implying that its supporters are the opposite.
Moving Forward with Cannabis in Mississippi
Despite opposition from some lawmakers, Initiative 65 passed. Medicinal cannabis legalization can now move forward in Mississippi using the voter-approved framework. As is our advice in other emerging markets, we suggest waiting to see what happens. That being said, we believe this market will be similar to that of Oklahoma, where cannabis applications are plentiful.
Adoption of recreational cannabis legalization may be slow — especially if the state opts to maintain a solely medicinal program. Nevertheless, the market in Mississippi will likely be well-suited for multi-state operators as well as those in ancillary cannabis sectors. Ancillary businesses — like HVAC, real estate, and more — are oftentimes easier to get off the ground. If you’re interested in exploring ancillary business options, our Pivot Program can help you get started.
Before setting up shop in Mississippi, or submitting a cannabis application, be sure to conduct a feasibility study to make sure your business will be viable. A feasibility study — which we can do for you — will provide insight into the dynamics of the local community and demonstrate whether or not your business will benefit them.
Cannabis Legalization in Mississippi & Around the U.S.
With the passage of Initiative 65, the state of Mississippi has taken its first steps toward full legalization. A solid framework has already been established, but there’s still a ways to go. Right now, keeping an eye on this emerging market is the best thing to do.
Cannabis in the United States is here to stay, and Mississippi is just the latest example. Although many are still in opposition, this big win in the Bible Belt shows that the fervor for cannabis legalization won’t be fading anytime soon.
Looking to get into cannabis in Mississippi or elsewhere? Contact us to schedule your consultation today!