How To Get a Cannabis Business License in Mississippi
As one of the last states to continuously outlaw adult-use cannabis (although the plant is decriminalized), obtaining a Mississippi cultivation license for any form of cannabis isn’t as straightforward as one would hope.
This article is designed to walk you through the process, covering where Mississippi stands on cannabis legalization, the different types of business licenses that are currently offered to Mississippians, and what the application process is like for those hoping to get into hemp production or a manufacturing opportunity within the state’s medical cannabis program.
Is Marijuana Legal in Mississippi?
Cannabis is only legal in medical form in Mississippi, as of November 2020’s Initiative 65. The Mississippi Medical Cannabis or Mississippi Medical Marijuana Act (SB 2095) state legislature was signed into law by Gov. Tate Reeves on February 2, 2022, bringing medical cannabis and the ability to open a cannabis business in Mississippi to the state.
The SB 2095 initiative process is an attempt at finding a middle ground between the restrictive approach the governor and select legislators would prefer, and the broader measure that voters seem to prefer and desire.
As with most states’ medical cannabis programs, Mississippi requires that applying patients have at least one qualifying medical condition from their regional list, along with a written certification from 1-2 healthcare providers with whom they have a bona fide relationship.
From the retailer’s side of things, cannabis flower is not allowed to exceed 30 percent THC, and tinctures, oils, and concentrates cannot exceed 60 percent THC.
Cannabis operators within Mississippi are regulated by The Mississippi State Department of Health (MDOH), which also handle licensing for all business types and for the state’s registry ID program.
The MDOH creates regulations surrounding seed-to-sale tracking, recordkeeping, oversight, health, security, transportation, capital requirements, safety standards, employee training, safe labeling and packaging, advertising, displays, and signage. Their regulations must be followed precisely, or a cannabis business risks being shut down or denied licensure.
Licenses are available for the following types of medical businesses within the cannabis industry: cannabis cultivation facilities, cannabis transportation entities, disposal entities, dispensaries, processing facilities, testing facilities, and research facilities.
There is no numerical cap on business licenses in the industry. However, no individual or business is allowed to hold more than 10 percent ownership interest in more than one cultivation license, one processing license, and up to four dispensaries.
What are the different types of cannabis business licenses in Mississippi
Mississippi provides cannabis licenses for every aspect of the state’s medical industry, including the facets of agriculture and commerce. When it comes to legalization, medical is of course the only arena the state’s industry can thrive, but the state offers a wide enough array of license types for businesses to be able to take their pick.
As we mentioned earlier, here are the different types of cannabis licenses you’ll come across in Mississippi:
- Cannabis cultivation facility license (including cultivation and micro-cultivation)
- Cannabis processing facility license
- Cannabis dispensary license
- Cannabis transportation license
- Cannabis disposal license
- Cannabis research license
- Cannabis testing license
You’ll have to adhere to different standards and regulations depending on which license you’re looking to acquire, but those will all be provided to you throughout the application process.
However, many businesses decide to hire a cannabis attorney to review the application alongside them and help ensure they’re filling it out correctly.
Applications for Mississippi medical cannabis business licenses opened as of June 2022, so if you want to get yours turned in in a timely and accurate fashion, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the process, depending on your type of business.
Mississippi cultivation license application process
The Mississippi cultivation license application will include its own bespoke approach, and it can get a little layered when it comes to Mississippi Department of Agriculture requirements.
This license is divided into the two aforementioned tiers: cultivation and micro-cultivation. Within those two tiers are several more tiers, which look like the following depending on the cultivation business type:
- Tier One: A canopy of 1,000 square feet or less
- Tier Two: A canopy of 1,000 to 2,000 square feet
- Tier One: A canopy of 2,000 to 5,000 square feet
- Tier Two: A canopy of 5,000 to 15,000 square feet
- Tier Three: A canopy of 15,000 to 30,000 square feet
- Tier Four: A canopy of 30,000 to 60,000 square feet
- Tier Five: A canopy of 60,000 to 100,000 square feet
- Tier Six: A canopy of 1000,000 square feet or more
Under these umbrellas, you’ll have to worry about the following yearly fees, depending on which tier you fall under:
- Tier One: $1,500 application fee and $2,000 annual license fee
- Tier Two: $2,500 application fee and $3,500 annual license fee
- Tier One: $5,000 application fee and $15,000 annual license fee
- Tier Two: $10,000 application fee and $25,000 annual license fee
- Tier Three: $20,000 application fee and $50,000 annual license fee
- Tier Four: $30,000 application fee and $75,000 annual license fee
- Tier Five: $40,000 application fee and $100,000 annual license fee
- Tier Six: $60,000 application fee and $150,000 annual license fee
To familiarize yourself with all of the requirements for the cultivation license application, you’ll want to visit the pre-application checklist page, along with the Mississippi cannabis cultivator application itself for review.
Mississippi dispensary license application process
Mississippi’s dispensary license application process is similar, with a few distinctions that you’ll want to pay attention to before beginning.
We highly recommend hiring a dispensary consultant to help you map out a business and compliance plan that makes sense, from license application to opening day of your location. This will help you both plan for the impending license procurement process and the future of your operation, as you’ll be asked to present the following mapped-out plans ahead of time:
- Employee qualifications and training
- Hours of operations
- Record-keeping systems
- Plan for preventing non-cardholders and persons under the age of 21 from entering the location and/or purchasing from the location
Next, you’ll need to raise capital, as the costs for opening a cannabis dispensary (or any business) are significant – beginning with the $15,000 application fee. You’ll also need to have a zone-compatible location in mind for your proposal.
The cannabis dispensary license application will also ask that you provide the following:
- A map or sketch of the location
- A floor plan
- Construction plans
- Any other requested materials
No matter what cannabis business license application you’re taking on, we recommend taking your time, consulting our online resources for intel, and hiring outside help to co-review and ensure you’ve ticked all of your boxes.