Mississippi is one of the states in the United States that has recently embraced the legalization of medical marijuana. With this change in legislation, the opportunity to open and operate a dispensary in Mississippi has become a reality for many entrepreneurs. If you’re considering entering this industry, you’ve come to the right place. If you’re looking to start a cannabis business in Mississippi, you will first need to familiarize yourself with the regulating body for your license type. Mississippi has two regulating agencies for cannabis businesses. The Department of Health licenses and regulates cannabis cultivation, processing, transportation, disposal, research, and testing facilities.
The Department of Revenue regulates and licenses medical cannabis dispensaries. This guide will walk you through everything you’ll need to know about the process and requirements for cannabis dispensaries in the Magnolia State.
Mississippi Medical Cannabis Dispensary Licensing Process
The licensing process for a Mississippi medical cannabis dispensary license is regulated through the Alcoholic Beverage Control Enforcement Division within the Department of Revenue. Before applying for a license businesses will need to register an account, and obtain a Mississippi Sales Tax Permit and register the business entity holding the cannabis license with the Mississippi Secretary of State.
- Understand the Legal Framework: The first and most crucial step is to understand the legal requirements and regulations surrounding medical marijuana in Mississippi. Research and familiarize yourself with the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Program (MMMP) and the Mississippi Department of Health (MSDH) guidelines. Make sure you comply with all state laws and local ordinances.
- Create a Business Plan: Every successful venture begins with a well-thought-out business plan. Your plan should outline your dispensary’s goals, target market, financial projections, and operational strategies. Consider factors like location, product offerings, pricing, and marketing strategies in your plan.
- Opening a dispensary can be capital-intensive: You’ll need to secure funding for your startup costs, including leasing or purchasing a property, inventory, licensing fees, and operational expenses. Explore financing options such as personal savings, loans, or investors.
- Choose a Suitable Location: Location plays a significant role in the success of your dispensary. Ensure your chosen location complies with zoning regulations and is accessible to your target customers. Consider factors like proximity to medical facilities and ease of access for patients.
- Obtain the Necessary Licenses and Permits: To legally operate a dispensary in Mississippi, you’ll need to obtain several licenses and permits. These may include:
- Medical marijuana establishment license
- Dispensary permit
- Local business licenses and permits
- State sales tax permit
You’ll also want to grow your knowledge, ensure security measures, create a marketing plan and much more through working with our team of cannabis experts.
Mississippi Medical Cannabis Dispensary Business Structure:
Choosing the right business structure depends on what makes the most sense for your dispensary. Businesses will need to consider agreements made between the owners and other financial interests, as well as regulatory requirements and tax obligations for each type of entity to determine which structure is best suited for your business. Consult with a licensing professional or accountant knowledgeable on the complex laws governing cannabis to determine what organizational structure makes the most sense for your business.
Mississippi Medical Cannabis Dispensary Business Locations:
A business location will need to be secured at the time of applying for a cannabis dispensary license. Mississippi law allows for the local municipality to require a local license, permit, or registration to operate within its jurisdiction. Check with your local municipality for any licensing and zoning requirements prior to securing your location to ensure it is compliant with local and state rules and regulations.
All dispensaries must also comply with distance requirements for specified sensitive uses. Dispensaries must be outside a 1,000-foot distance from schools, churches, or childcare facilities and 1,500 feet from another dispensary. Businesses may obtain a waiver to be outside a 500-foot distance from a school, church, or childcare facility provided with approval from the sensitive use that is within the 1,000-foot distance requirement.
Submitting your Mississippi Medical Cannabis Dispensary Application:
Once you’ve secured the facility, obtained the necessary local approvals, and completed construction and all state application requirements, you can submit your application to the Department of Revenue for a dispensary license. After all, fees are paid, and the application has been deemed complete the Department will decide to approve or deny the application within 30 days.
The Department may issue licenses while background checks are pending. If the results return a disqualifying felony as detailed below, the licensee will have a period of 10 days to remove the individual or the license will be revoked. Licensees will have 12 months to finish construction and begin operating and recording transactions within the seed-to-sale system. If licensees are unable to finish construction and begin operating within 12 months the business will not be eligible to renew the license and require a new application to be submitted.
Mississippi Medical Cannabis Dispensary License Requirements:
The application process for cannabis business licenses is a lengthy process with a number of requirements. Applicants for a medical cannabis dispensary license in the State of Michigan should review the requirements carefully and allow ample time to prepare to ensure their application is fully complete at the time of submission. Some of the dispensary application requirements include:
- Business formation documents and disclosure of all individuals and entities with a 10% economic interest in the cannabis business.
- Land Survey conducted by a Mississippi-licensed surveyor confirming the main entrance to the dispensary is not within 1,000 feet of a school, church, or childcare facility’s nearest property boundary line or waiver of minimum distance requirements to these sensitive uses, if applicable.
- Affidavit of completed background checks.
- Local business permit or registration issued by the local municipality where the business is located, if applicable (or projected date of issuance if the facility is under construction) or Statement on Local Privilege Licenses and Permits.
- Evidence of legal right to occupy and use the premises to operate a medical cannabis facility at the business location.
- Business standard operating procedures.
Economic Interests & Disqualifying Interests:
All economic interests and employees of the business must submit to a background check to verify an individual has not been convicted of a disqualifying conviction. Disqualifying offenses include:
- Felony convictions of violent crimes under Mississippi law or the laws of the jurisdiction where the offense was committed.
- Felony convictions for violating a state or federal controlled substances law with the exception of specified cannabis-related convictions.
Consult with a licensing professional for questions on the licensing requirements and criteria for disqualifying criminal histories. The Department has also provided a checklist as guidance to help applicants prepare which can be found here.
Medical cannabis dispensary license applicants are required to pay both a $15,000 application fee and a $25,000 license fee before their application can be deemed complete. During the review process, if an application is denied due to the business location being within 1,500 feet of another dispensary, both the application and license fees will be refunded. If the application is denied for any other reason the license fee only will be refunded.
There are a number of steps to opening a medical marijuana dispensary in the State of Mississippi. Make sure everything goes smoothly during this process by hiring an experienced team of license and regulatory consultants, architects, accountants, and security professionals who specialize in commercial cannabis so they can help guide you through the licensing process and beyond to set your business up for longstanding success.
How we can help?
At Cannabis License Experts, we provide you with the guidance to plan your cannabis business, acquire funding, navigate the legal requirements, and acquire the appropriate cannabis license for your operations. As the Mississippi cannabis industry develops, more and more licensed producers will be needed to meet the demands of consumers.
Cannabis License Experts offers support from day one of starting your cannabis business, including strategic planning, floor plan preparation, site audits, SOPs, Preventive Control Plans (PCPs), and more.
Our Edibles Compliance division can provide you with a solid plan for your edibles business to help get your products on store shelves.
Contact us today to discover how we can license and legalize your cannabis business to meet federal or provincial regulations.