Mississippi regulators are taking disciplinary action against Mockingbird Cannabis, LLC, a medical cannabis grower that allegedly used plastic- and cloth-covered greenhouse structures to begin cultivation operations.

The structures, commonly referred to as hoophouses, violate Mississippi’s medical cannabis law, which requires indoor cultivation.

As Cannabis Business Times previously reported, some of Mississippi’s other medical cannabis growers commented on Mockingbird’s alleged violations during the Board of Health’s public meeting Oct. 12. The Department of Health said at the time that it planned to respond with “corrective actions,” allowing licensees that violate state regulations time to fix their infractions.

However, department officials announced Oct. 27 that Mockingbird, one of the largest medical cannabis operators in the state, must now destroy roughly $1 million worth of plants and temporarily cease operations until structural improvements are made at one of its sites, according to a Mississippi Today report.

Mockingbird had allegedly been growing medical cannabis at a secondary site roughly 12 miles from its main operations near Raymond, the news outlet reported, and the company had not been registering the plants in Mississippi’s seed-to-sale tracking system.

“There is an order in place where they have some halt on operations and some impact on their operations and some capital improvements they have to do to satisfy that corrective action,” Kris Jones Adcock, Mississippi Medical Cannabis Program director for the Department of Health, said during a press conference Thursday, according to Mississippi Today. “They also had to destroy a number of plants in their inventory. … I don’t know the exact number. There was upwards of $1 million of inventory destroyed—right at about 5,000 plants.”

Marcy Croft, Mockingbird’s co-founder, told Mississippi Today that the company plans to “continue to fully cooperate with the Mississippi Department of Health, our fellow growers, dispensaries, owners and healthcare providers to ensure a robust and effective market in our state.”

Mississippi officials have licensed 47 medical cannabis cultivators, which are currently growing tens of thousands of plants that will eventually serve patients in the state, according to Mississippi Today. However, the Department of Health has reported that it only has three staffers and no investigators currently committed to overseeing the medical cannabis program.

In any case, State Health Officer Dr. Dan Edney said Thursday that he believes little cannabis from the medical cannabis program is being diverted to the illicit market.

“We are doing that to the best of our ability,” Edney said, according to Mississippi Today. “We are not going to be able to get that to zero, but we are doing as best we can under the regulatory authority given to us … and as we are bringing on more staff next month it will be easier.”

Officials said they plan to hire nine more staffers by the end of November, the news outlet reported, and they will contract with private companies to help with compliance.

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