It’s true: industry changes happen a bit slower in the southern United States. Change does happen, though, and it’s not always linear. In Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, cannabis business licensing law changes don’t look exactly like they do in other parts of the country, but change is happening nonetheless. Below is an update on cannabis business licensing in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
Cannabis Business Licensing in Alabama
In late October 2023, Alabama cannabis business licensing was reset by the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission (AMCC). This was welcome news for the 90 applicants for commercial medical cannabis licenses, as the AMCC had rescinded all awarded licenses and denials.
“We decided to start all over as far as the award,” said Rex Vaughn, the chair of the AMCC, after the meeting. “It doesn’t matter if [uncontested in court] or not, they’ll all be taken into consideration.” The newly adopted procedures allow commissioners to use their previous scores to decide on awards while retaining full discretion. Applicants will also now have the opportunity to contest application deficiencies as well as scores. The commission has begun accepting comments from the public, either in favor of or in opposition to granting licenses to specific applicants. Comments may be submitted electronically through the AMCC website by November 26.
Mississippi Cannabis Business Licensing
For those involved or interested in cannabis business licensing in Mississippi, take note. The Mississippi Department of Health has announced a proposal for a dynamic change to the regulations of its medical cannabis market. Said proposed changes focus on rules that must be adhered to by practitioners and patients as well as changes to the regulations’ wording.
Updates include information on how patients’ medical cards can be renewed, types of accepted ID to be submitted with card applications and details about how non-residents may obtain a medical card. Advertising may not contain false or misleading statements about medical cannabis or the medical cannabis program, use colloquial terms such as “weed,” include images of the plant or contain medical symbols that could be confused for established medical organizations.
Further Mississippi cannabis business licensing rule changes include the required submission of an operating plan with organization chart, job descriptions and minimum qualifications for each position, an explanation of whether the applicant has experience operating businesses in highly regulated industries and an employee training plan, and the business’ hours of operation along with the application. Additionally, names and other data must be provided for all individuals, entities or affiliated entities who directly or indirectly own 10 percent or more of the medical cannabis establishment applicant.
A historic institution within the state, Ole Miss, is embracing the industry for the benefit of future applicants by offering a medical marijuana/dietary supplements master’s degree. In the 1960s, the university began researching medicinal cannabis and built a growing facility. Beginning in Fall 2024, the School of Pharmacy will operate a two-year online program divided between these two leading industries in the U.S.
David Colby, director of online graduate programs in the biomedical sciences department, said the medical cannabis and dietary supplements master’s program will be unique in the nation. “The purpose is to provide advanced training for people who are seeking employment or want to advance their current jobs in dietary supplements, which could be herbal products or medical cannabis,” Colby said. “Since it’s entirely online, we do expect that we will have students that are partially or fully employed, particularly maybe even already fully employed in the industry, but they want to move ahead. So perhaps they’re operating in an entry-level position and they want to move into something with regulatory affairs or something with formulation and manufacturing, or look at more analytical chemistry or R and D (research and development),” Colby said. “They will be able to do that with this degree.”
Tennessee Cannabis Business Licensing
Attention Tennessee cannabis business licensing holders: products containing hemp-derived cannabinoids sold in the Volunteer State are now subject to a 6 percent “privilege” sales tax, which began July 1, 2023. The new tax applies to hemp-derived cannabinoids, such as CBD, delta-8, delta-9 THC and delta-10 THC products. All sellers must obtain state licenses and abide by product-testing standards. Further, limitations have been imposed on packaging in order to limit appeal to children.
This is some good news for those in possession of cannabis business licensing in Tennessee, as finding a place to sell their hemp-derived products has been an issue, even though the 2018 Farm Bill allows for hemp to be cultivated and transported. High Notes Cannabis Bar and Lounge aims to sell and provide a space for consumption. Criminal and cannabis attorney and part-owner of High Notes Joey Fuson said, “Tennessee really has the most comprehensive hemp policies in the country right now, and we’re really embracing this industry.”
Learn All you Need to Know About Tennessee Cannabis Licensing and Other Cannabis News at CannaCon
CannaCon has the Deep South covered as well as the rest of the United States! As the nation’s largest B2B cannabis expo, CannaCon connects growers, distributors, dispensary owners, ancillary service providers and cannabis enthusiasts alike for unmatchable multi-day networking and education events. Don’t miss your opportunity to be part of the next CannaCon; there’s something for everybody at each convention Check out upcoming dates and plan a field trip for you and your employees!
This post was originally published on July 16, 2019. It was updated on Nov. 7, 2023.