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A local business owner is set to open one of the first medical marijuana dispensaries on Friday as the state’s first cannabis crop is almost ready to be sold.

Wayne Williams, owner of Legally Rooted, a dispensary located on 6th Street, said he believed cannabis product will be ready in time for his dispensary’s opening or shortly thereafter.

“We should have flower Wednesday through Friday,” he said. “We’re not sure 100%.”

A ribbon cutting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday to celebrate the new business opening in downtown. While a medical marijuana card is not needed to enter a dispensary, anyone wanting to go inside will have to be 21 or older and show ID.

Williams, who also owns Meridian Underground Music, said he and his business partner worked diligently to meet the licensing and inspection requirements and are ready to go. State inspectors said the business is one of the first dispensaries to be inspected, he said.

While the product may be a day or two behind, Williams said he and his business partner are looking forward to opening the new business and helping their fellow Meridian residents with medical cannabis prescriptions. 

The dispensary opening marks the end of a long and complicated grassroots movement to get medical marijuana approved in Mississippi. After a successful petition to place it on the 2020 ballot, voters throughout the state overwhelmingly chose to allow medical cannabis as a treatment option for a variety of chronic diseases and illnesses.

Shortly after the ballot initiative, however, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled both the decision and the ballot initiative itself was invalid due to language requiring signatures from five congressional districts. A decline in population in the 2010 census reduced the state’s number of congressional seats to four, making it impossible for petitioners to gather the required signatures.

Under pressure from voters, the state legislature took up the medical marijuana issue in its 2022 session passing SB2095, the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act. The act provided guidelines for developing a medical marijuana industry and tasked the Mississippi Department of Health and Department of Revenue with developing regulations and processing the applications for patients, practitioners, dispensaries, cultivation facilities, testing and disposal sites and transportation entities.

Licenses and permits were awarded beginning in July, and growers quickly set to work planting the state’s first legal cannabis crop. With the first plants nearing the end of the state’s seed-to-sale tracking system and tens of millions invested, cannabis business owners and the thousands of Mississippi residents with qualifying illnesses, are waiting to receive their first chance at relief.

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