It's been 10 months since Mississippians started getting their hands on medical marijuana legally. So, how are dispensaries and cultivation facilities coping with this new market and all the state regulations? Well, it seems like there are just a few hiccups along the way, according to one CEO.
Mississippians came together in 2020 to vote overwhelmingly in favor of medical marijuana use for residents with qualifying medical conditions. This made Mississippi the 38th state to have a medical cannabis law in place. However, legal challenges and a state Supreme Court ruling caused a delay in implementing the ballot measure.
But now, thanks to a bill passed during the 2022 legislative session, the medical cannabis program is back on track. The Mississippi Department of Health is overseeing the program, and the number of enrolled patients has skyrocketed from 2,000 to over 21,000.
River Remedy, a cannabis dispensary and cultivation company located in Byram, Mississippi, is leading the way in the state's medical cannabis industry. They are not only the first dispensary in Hinds County but also the first cultivation facility to ship products on a wholesale level.
What sets River Remedy apart is its innovative approach. They handle everything from cultivation and distribution to research and development, all under one roof. And they're not keeping it a secret. Customers can tune into a live Twitch feed to see what's happening behind the scenes at the facility, whether it's the harvest of plants or the production of gummies and cartridges.
"We want to educate people about the cannabis industry, which can be quite complex. By showing them our operations in real-time, we hope to demystify the process," said William Chism, CEO of River Remedy.
The facility has its own branded products for sale in the front area, while also shipping wholesale products to over 70 other dispensaries across the state from the loading docks in the back. In between these areas, there is a space that resembles a research laboratory.
In one room, a water filtration system that uses reverse osmosis mixes with different nutrients to irrigate hundreds of plants in several flowering rooms. The measurements of these nutrients are determined by both cultivators and an artificial intelligence program.
There is also a special room called the living soil room, which is the first of its kind at River Remedy. In this room, plants housed in organic soils are hand-watered and given extra attention compared to other rooms that use automation.
Across the hall, employees in lab coats and safety goggles are busy extracting THC from trimmed plants to make organic rosin. This rosin will be used to create various products like gummies, tinctures, and vapor cartridges sold in the dispensary.
By centralizing all aspects of cultivation, production, and retail, the facility aims to adapt to Mississippi's regulations while also preparing for potential industry changes.
"We're constantly experimenting and trying to figure things out. In this market, where there is an oversupply of cannabis flower, we have the luxury of taking our time and focusing on quality rather than overproducing," said Chism, emphasizing the importance of quality over quantity.
Currently, the facility has adjusted its production to meet market demands, but they have the capacity to double production in the future. They believe the market is embracing the idea of slowing down production, focusing on high-quality products, and selling them.
Did you know that the regulations for medical marijuana vary a lot from state to state? Some states have rules about how much patients can buy and what methods growers can and can't use. In Mississippi, they even have a rule that the plants can't be seen from the outside, which means they can only grow indoors with artificial lighting. This means their costs are higher because of the electricity bills.
But that's not all. Mississippi also has a law that says medical marijuana operators can't use billboards or internet ads to promote their business. It's all part of a long list of regulations that they're hoping to change in future legislative sessions.
One of the things they want to change is how much patients can buy and the time periods they can buy it. It can be confusing for people right now. They also want to add more conditions to the list of things that qualify you for medical marijuana, like insomnia, depression, and anxiety. Right now, people with insomnia can't get certified, even though it's a common problem.
It's a big deal for them because the medical marijuana industry is expected to make $300 million in Mississippi by 2026. They're hoping that with some changes to the regulations, they can make even more.