Cannabis alliance urges Southaven to not opt out of new law
A pro-medical cannabis group has come out with strong opposition to the City of Southaven’s possible move to opt-out of the law signed by Gov. Tate Reeves to allow medical marijuana in the state.
At a recent Southaven Board of Aldermen meeting, Mayor Darren Musselwhite said that, while he supports medical marijuana, he was moving toward recommending the aldermen vote to opt out of the law, which local governments have the option to do before May 2. DeSoto County News reported on Musselwhite’s comments at that meeting.
The reason for Musselwhite’s possible recommendation regards the inability to have zoning oversight of where medical marijuana dispensaries could be located.
“Cities must have zoning authority,” Musselwhite said at that meeting. “There is no business in our city that does not have to abide by zoning regulations. It did not happen for dispensaries.”
If local governing bodies opt-out from the new law, it can opt back in after the May deadline. However, once the May 2 date passes, governments can’t opt out any more.
The Horn Lake Board of Aldermen also discussed the medical marijuana issue at its last meeting but no action was taken at that time.
The possible move from the state’s third-largest city came with strong opposition from the Mississippi Cannabis Patients Alliance (MCPA), a group that actively pushed for the law on behalf of 147,000 patients who would qualify for access to the substance.
In a statement, MCPA stated, “The Alliance strongly supports the most convenient access for eligible patients to medical cannabis, and any efforts that hinder patient access are detrimental to the health of thousands of Mississippians.”
The MCPA statement went on to say the program assists patients in Southaven and across the state “in reducing unnecessary utilization of healthcare resources, lowers dependence on opioids, and gives patients long-sought medical freedom.”
Musselwhite did not ask for action at that board meeting but said a request to that effect may be forthcoming in the future, saying he would make the recommendation that Southaven opt out until zoning ordinances for medical marijuana businesses are allowed to be enacted.
If an amendment is passed to include zoning in the medical marijuana bill, Musselwhite said he and planning officials already have plans to locate dispensaries in what is considered the Medical District of Southaven.
“Right now, dispensaries can go anywhere that is zoned commercial in the city,” Musselwhite said. “It makes me nauseous to say what I’m about to say because I have worked so hard and tried to advocate so hard for medical marijuana in our city. I’m pro-medical marijuana but more so, I’m pro-Southaven. The way the bill is right now, I don’t think we have any choice but to opt out.”