New associations launch to fill a void in their sector. Here, a state medical marijuana group tells us what got them started, what they’re working on now, and what they plan to do next.
Starting point. A Mississippi ballot initiative that passed last fall legalized medical marijuana in the state. Many who worked on that ballot campaign, including Executive Director Ken Newburger, came together to form the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association (3MA). “After the campaign ended, we knew that patients were going to need medical marijuana,” he said. “We’ve had hundreds and hundreds of Mississippians reach out and say, ‘I want to start a business. These are my ideas. How do I move forward? Is there anything you know about how to operate in this city?’”
Early work. 3MA has focused on providing information and keeping abreast of legislative and regulatory issues. “Our agenda has been trying to connect people in Mississippi who are looking to start medical marijuana businesses with experts from throughout the nation in the medical marijuana space,” Newburger said. “Also, we have been interfacing with the state legislature and the state Department of Health to make sure that we have a living, breathing, and effective ecosystem for medical marijuana businesses to give patients their medicine.”
Currently, the group is only open to associate members, who are people interested in the field. Full membership will only be available to licensed facilities. However, the state won’t begin licensure until August 15.
Next steps. In the near future, 3MA is focused on providing information to those pursuing licenses, so they can hit the ground running in August. Longer term, Newburger wants the industry to thrive. “Over the next few years, it’s about getting people together who are in the medical marijuana space to make sure we’re a unified industry here in Mississippi, so we can be the gold standard of what medical marijuana can be for patrons everywhere,” he said.