Monday, March 20, 2023

Lafayette County Does Not Opt Out of Allowing Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

By Alyssa Schnugg

News editor

Lafayette County will not be opting out of allowing medical marijuana facilities for growing or selling medical marijuana, known as dispensaries.

The deadline for the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors to vote to opt-out was at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

The recently passed Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act gave cities and counties 90 days to opt-out of allowing medical marijuana dispensaries.

If a city or county did not opt-out by Tuesday’s deadline, they cannot go back and vote to opt-out. However, the cities and counties that have voted to opt-out can change their vote in the future.

The Board held a public hearing in March where they listened to a handful of residents who spoke against opting out of the program. Lafayette County Sheriff Joey East asked the Board to consider opting out now, wait and see how things go, and then decide down the road whether to opt-in or not once the state provides more guidelines on how the program will work.

The Board did not vote on the matter. The Board would have only needed to take an actual vote if they had planned to opt-out. By not voting, the county will not be opting out of the program.

In the 2020 election, 67 percent of Lafayette County voters voted in favor of the medical marijuana program. All five districts voted in favor of the program.

While dispensaries will now be allowed, Lafayette County Building Official Joel Hollowell said zoning laws of the county will be applied. Dispensaries will have their site plans reviewed and will be allowed in certain zones, mostly commercial. Hollowell said the county planning department is still reviewing which zones they will be allowed outright or by special exception.

The city of Oxford has also decided to not opt out and will allow dispensaries.

This is a developing story.