“It looks like it will be the end of the year that we see products.” 

By Sara DiNatale, Mississippi Today

Mississippi’s medical marijuana license portal is shy of a week old but more than 1,800 people have already registered for online accounts to apply for licenses, the state Department of Health announced Monday.

“If you can shop on Amazon you can probably work through the portal,” said Kris Jones, the director of Mississippi’s new medical marijuana program.

The program is still in its early stages and leaders don’t expect medical marijuana to be available to purchase for another six months.

“I know everyone would love for it to be up in running,” said Jim Craig, the director of the Office of Health Protection. “It looks like it will be the end of the year that we see products.”

About 85 percent of those who have made accounts on the new portal are patients seeking cannabis treatment. But 15 businesses and nine medical practitioners have completed their applications, Jones said during a Monday press conference. A dozen people have also submitted applications for work permits, which are required for marijuana-related jobs.

The new portal is the first step for patients to eventually receive a medical marijuana card; for doctors, optometrists and nurse practitioners to become certified providers; for facilities to receive licensing to grow, process and test marijuana; and for businesses and their workers to become certified to transport cannabis and dispose of its waste.

The portal does not handle applications for those hoping to open dispensaries. Those applications will be processed by the Mississippi Department of Revenue. The department is scheduled to begin accepting those applications on July 1.

Jones said all applications that have come through the portal are still under review and the number of applications is growing daily.

While hopeful medical marijuana patients can make accounts and begin the application process through the new portal, none of them can receive their license to buy medical cannabis until they’ve met with a certified doctor or practitioner.

No one is certified yet to offer that care but doctors’ applications will be processed within 30 days, according to the program’s rules. Jones said approved providers and dispensaries will eventually be listed on the health department website to assist patients.

Craig touted the regulation requirements deployed to manage the state’s processing labs, which are among the businesses that can now apply to be licensed. These labs will test THC levels—the chemical in marijuana that produces the feeling of being high—as well as for possible contaminants in products.

Craig called this one of the key pieces to product safety in the state. Another safety measure is limiting advertising and marketing options so medical marijuana “isn’t something very attractive to kids,” Craig said.

Medical marijuana businesses cannot be on social media, for example. Businesses are limited to creating just a website and logo.

More than two dozen Mississippi cities opted out of the medical marijuana program. Although that limits where medical marijuana businesses can open and operate, it does not prevent licensed patients in those areas from using and buying medical marijuana.

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