City of Vicksburg approves medical marijuana ordinance

Published 4:20 pm Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Vicksburg now has an ordinance regulating the sale of medical marijuana in the city limits.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Wednesday unanimously approved the ordinance following a presentation on the law by City Attorney Kim Nailor. The ordinance becomes effective 30 days after its publication.

The board also amended the city’s policy involving employee use of medical marijuana.

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“We have followed the (state) law to a ‘T’,” Nailor said after the presentation.

The Mississippi Legislature at its recent session passed Senate Bill 2095, known as the “Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act,” which allows the production and sale of marijuana for medical use by people with qualified disabilities. Gov. Tate Reeves signed the bill in February.

Individuals apply for a medical cannabis dispensary license through the Mississippi State Department of Health. The license is issued by the Mississippi Department of Revenue.

Patients must have a qualifying medical condition such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s 301 disease, muscular dystrophy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, hepatitis, amyotrophic lateral 304 sclerosis of ALS, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, sickle-cell anemia, or Alzheimer’s disease and have a written certification issued by a health care practitioner with whom the patient has a bona fide relationship.

That means, Nailor said, the patient has had an ongoing relationship with the healthcare provider. A patient can purchase and possess up to 3.5 grams (0.123 ounces) of flower, 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of infused products and 1 gram (0.035 ounces) of concentrate.

The ordinance restricts the hours of operation of a medical cannabis dispensary from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and prohibits medical cannabis establishments from operating within 1,000 feet “from the nearest property boundary line of a school, church or child care facility.”

Under the ordinance, a dispensary operator can seek a waiver to operate within 500 feet of a school or church provided that the main point of entry of the cannabis establishment is not located within 500 feet of the nearest property boundary line of any school, church or child care facility.

Nailor said the city’s legal department has been contacted “by about four people who want to put a medical dispensary here and the main problem they’re finding in Vicksburg is that we have a church on every corner.”

She said the city is requiring dispensary operators to provide a copy of a survey of their site from a licensed surveyor. She added a dispensary cannot be located within 1,500 feet of the main entrance of another dispensary.

Drive-thru, curbside pickup or delivery services are prohibited.

The ordinance restricts who medical marijuana dispensaries can hire and restricts the age of customers to 21 years old or older unless they possess a registry identification card identifying them as a registered qualifying patient, nonresident registered qualifying patient or registered designated caregiver and are accompanied by a legal guardian.

Medical marijuana dispensaries, research facilities and testing facilities are restricted to the city’s C-4 commercial zones, while cannabis cultivation facilities and cannabis micro-cultivation facilities, where cannabis is grown, processing and micro-processing facilities are restricted to light industrial zones.

Cannabis cultivation and micro cultivation facilities are restricted to agricultural zones.

“The C-4 general commercial zone was established to provide areas for any type of commercial use that generates a significant amount of traffic,” Nailor said. “We don’t want to impose any restrictions for those facilities operating in the city of Vicksburg that’s going to make the operation of these establishments impractical.

“C-4 is Pemberton Boulevard, Clay Street, Mission 66; these are heavily populated thoroughfares where we’re going to place our medical cannabis dispensaries; that’s where our dispensaries have to be placed — in a commercial zone.

“We want to look at major thoroughfares where we have a free flow of traffic where it is not disturbing the operation of the establishment. Also, along Pemberton Square Boulevard there are no churches, there are no schools or any childcare facilities.”

In a related matter, the board amended the city’s personnel policy to include disciplinary action against employees who come to work or work under the influence of medical marijuana similar to that of employees who use the drug before coming to work or on the job.

The board agreed in April to allow the sale of medical marijuana in the city. The Warren County Board of Supervisors also decided to stay in the state program.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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