Lauderdale County, the eighth largest county in Mississippi, has opted out of the state’s medical cannabis program.
“I voted to opt out after giving people a considerate amount of time to contact us,” board member Jonathan Wells told the news outlet. “I felt like it was the best thing to do. We don’t have building codes or zoning in the county. That means it is wide open. We could put a dispensary or growery wherever you wanted to. I think it is my job to look out for our citizenry. At this time, I thought it was the right time to opt out and watch what happens in the city. We can revisit this subject in the future.”
Another member of the board, Kyle Rutledge, shared with WTOK that he voted against opting out of the program because he wanted the county to regulate medical cannabis operators like businesses in any other industry.
“The main thing is if people want to open a business on their land, then I didn’t want the government to tell them that they couldn’t,” he told the news outlet. “I wanted them to have that option if they wanted to, just like any other industry that would come into the county. We don’t regulate that, and I think it should be the same way.”
The Board of Supervisors’ vote to opt out of hosting medical cannabis businesses will not bar registered patients from using cannabis legally within Lauderdale County.
Mississippi’s medical cannabis law, which Gov. Tate Reeves signed into law in February, allows counties and municipalities to opt out within three months of the bill being signed into law, which is May 3.
Residents can then petition for a local election to overturn their city’s decision, and the Mississippi Cannabis Trade Association has been holding signature drives in municipalities that have opted out of hosting medical cannabis businesses to give voters a chance to opt back in.