Mississippi farmers pivot from Hemp to Pot
The state of Mississippi legalized medical cannabis last year.
With medical cannabis now officially live in Mississippi, a local newspaper is spotlighting a family that brought the newly legal crop to their county––and their farm.
The Daily Leader of Brookhaven, Mississippi has the story out of Lincoln County, where local officials initially opted out of the state’s newly enshrined medical marijuana law.
Mississippi finally legalized medical cannabis treatment last year after extended legislative debate, but local governments were given the option to opt out of the program.
The decision in Lincoln County spurred a couple, Jason McDonald and Timothy Gibson, to take action. Per the Daily Leader, the two “spearheaded efforts to legalize medical marijuana in Lincoln County after the Board of Supervisors voted to initially opt out of medical marijuana,” ultimately bringing the matter to a vote in August, when voters in the county reversed the decision by local officials.
Following that vote, McDonald and Gibson “started work on opening their own Medical Marijuana Cultivation facility,” according to the Daily Leader, founding a business “called SADUJA [that] is separate from their tea farm but on the same property in East Lincoln.”
That business, per the Daily Leader, “was first licensed to grow Hemp in 2021 and as of December 22, was licensed to grow medical marijuana in Lincoln County.”
“Crime rates haven’t gone up, property values haven’t gone down like people thought,” McDonald told the Daily Leader. “We have been growing hemp since 2021. We sold hemp to local shops around Mississippi. I don’t think people have realized the cannabis plant was growing here legally well before medical marijuana passed here. It was here and it was growing on the farm.”
“I think with anything new people are generally afraid of it,’ McDonald added. “It is more of what we have done just doing it on a bigger scale and we switched over to medical cannabis instead of hemp. It is the same plant. Growing any plant is the same really.”
Medical cannabis sales launched on January 25, a little less than a year after Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed a measure into law.
The medical cannabis bill was a source of intense disagreement within the Mississippi legislature, and between lawmakers and Reeves, who was adamant about imposing tight restrictions on any law that emerged.
“The ‘medical marijuana bill’ has consumed an enormous amount of space on the front pages of the legacy media outlets across Mississippi over the last three-plus years,” Reeves said last year after signing the compromise bill.
“There is no doubt that there are individuals in our state who could do significantly better if they had access to medically prescribed doses of cannabis. There are also those who really want a recreational marijuana program that could lead to more people smoking and less people working, with all of the societal and family ills that that brings,” the governor added.
One of Reeves’ chief concerns was with the amount of cannabis a patient could obtain. The governor preferred a limit of 2.7 grams per day; the bill that landed on his desk, which was approved with a veto-proof majority, allows patients to purchase up to 3.5 grams as many as six times per week.
“I have made it clear that the bill on my desk is not the one that I would have written,” Reeves said after he signed the measure. “But it is a fact that the legislators who wrote the final version of the bill (the 45th or 46th draft) made significant improvements to get us towards accomplishing the ultimate goal.”