The Mississippi Cannabis Trade Association plans to assist residents in filing petitions to overturn the decisions of the local city councils.

Two Mississippi cities have chosen to opt out of the new medical marijuana program established by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Tate Reeves in February.

The City Councils in Ridgeland and Pass Christian chose to take advantage of the 90-day opt out provision in the state’s medical marijuana law, meaning the cultivation, processing, sale, and distribution of medical cannabis and cannabis products in those municipalities will not be available in their cities. Residents who wish to take advantage of medical cannabis would need to purchase it elsewhere.

Had the cities taken no action, medical marijuana facilities and distribution would have automatically been made legal, per the legislation.

A resolution in Ridgeland stated that it was in the best interest of the city to opt out of the program now, saying “by opting out the Governing Body will be able to monitor the social, economic and financial effects of the cultivation, processing, sale and/or distribution of medical cannabis and cannabis products in other parts of the State and will be able to opt in at any time in the future pursuant to the provisions of the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act.”

In Pass Christian, the local governing body said it was too early to opt in to the new medical cannabis program, adding that they would like to see how other cities in Mississippi deal with all of the issues associated with medical marijuana prior to opting in. The issue for them seems largely to be based on how best to permit these new businesses.

According to the new law, those cities could vote to opt back in at a later date.

Citizens may also petition their respective city councils to opt in by way of a public referendum. Residents would need to gather signatures for the petition from 20% of the population or 1,500 people, whichever is less.

The Mississippi Cannabis Trade Association (MSCTA) has said it will actively assist citizens in cities that opt out. This week, they announced a signature drive in Ridgeland on Saturday, March 12th and Sunday, March 13th to assist residents who would like the city to participate in the Medical Cannabis program.

“In November 2020, over 800,000 Mississippians voted for access to an alternative form of healthcare. The Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act aims to provide that to the citizens of Mississippi, and also possibly provide an economic windfall for the State as well,” MSCTA Director of Communications and Media, Melvin Robinson III said in a statement. “While the MSCTA is disappointed that any area of the state would opt-out of the program, we are also prepared to assist Mississippians to receive what they voted for.”

The MSCTA told Y’all Politics on Thursday that they would also be assisting citizens in Pass Christian in collecting signatures for a petition drive aimed at overturning that city council’s decision. Dates of that drive are being discussed now.

Robinson said concerned citizens in other cities whose local governing board choose to opt out can contact MSCTA for assistance in starting their own petitions. You can learn more about MSCTA and connect with them here.