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October 1, 2023

Medical Marijuana Permitting

Cleveland has started the process and will follow state guidelines

By Jack Criss

The Bolivar Bullet

With cities and municipalities across the state deciding whether to opt in or out on permitting medical marijuana dispensaries to operate, Cleveland has begun the process in the affirmative. However, applicants must adher to strict state guidelines after first applying to the city, according to City Attorney, Danny Griffith. 

“At the  option of a local government like the City of Cleveland, qualification for a medical marijuana privilege license prior to applying with the state is necessary,” explained Griffith. “This process began as soon as the new law was signed by the governor. Every church, school and child daycare facility was identified and incorporated into a master map of the city because the main entrance of any dispensary must be 1000 feet away from the property line of these facilities, and 1500 feet away from any other dispensary.  However, at their option, any church, school or child daycare facility can execute a waiver that reduces that distance to 500 feet.” Griffith noted Cleveland has around 29 churches within the city limits.

Although the city did not exercise the option of “opting out“, it did exercise its zoning authority by limiting medical marijuana facilities to B3 (Highway Commercial) and M1 (lite industrial), he said.

“Cleveland also exercised its authority to require a permitting process through the city before applications for licenses may be made to the state,” continued Griffith. “Those legal notices have been duly posted and run in previous editions of The Bolivar Bullet.  Using software called seamlessdocs.com applications are made online through the city’s website and are then reviewed and approved by community development, legal and the city clerk.  At 8:00 a.m. last Monday morning, this application and review process went online. Since that time two completed applications for dispensaries and one application for a grow facility have already been submitted, reviewed and approved for Cleveland–they’ve been permitted. And, it was an extensive process. Those applicants are now eligible to begin the application process with the state starting on July 5,” said Griffith.

Griffith noted that, with the overwhelming majority of Mississppians voting to approve the use and dispensing of medical marijuanna, those municipalities that have opted out could have an uphill battle.

“I would imagine you could set up a card table at the local WalMart one morning and have enough signatures by lunchtime to force an expensive special election,” he said. “The better approach, in my opinion, is to regulate these dispensaries.”