Hempville CBD Owner Tabbed to Serve on State’s Medical Marijuana Panel
November 13, 2019
By Talbert Toole
When Mississippians for Compassionate Care—a statewide organization that advocates for progressive medicinal marijuana legislation—passed the 86,000 signature threshold in September to get the issue on the 2020 ballot, local business owner Tony Barragan breathed a sigh of relief.
Barragan, who launched Oxford’s Hempville CBD in February, regularly advocates for the medicinal use of the drug and now will join 25 or so other advocates currently working on guidelines and regulation legislation in Jackson.
Barragan was contacted via email by state representative Joel Bomgar, a District 58 representative in the Mississippi Legislature, to see if he would be interested in joining the panel. Bomgar is one of the state legislators who is helping craft legislation for regulating medicinal marijuana in Mississippi if it passes during the 2020 election in November.
Barragan said most of his advocacy comes in the way of educating his customers. As the owner of Hempville CBD, he teaches the health benefits of CBD and medicinal marijuana to the LOU community.
“[State legislators] didn’t call me just because,” Barragan said. “They know I’m educating myself and educating the community on this product.”
Starting the Process
On Monday, Nov. 4, Barragan and his fellow panel associates, known as the Strategic Round Table, gathered in Jackson for the first session of discussing regulations of medicinal marijuana.
The panel included doctors, lawyers, state representatives and even dispensary business owners from Oregon and Arkansas.
Barragan said the overall conversation embodied what would be taking place in the next 10 months regarding the medicinal marijuana movement, such as regulations.
If approved by the voters in 2020, patients who are suffering from a variety of approved medical conditions will be able to obtain medical marijuana after they are examined by Mississippi licensed physicians and certified to use it. The Mississippi Department of Health (MDH) will regulate the process by which medical marijuana is grown, processed and made available to patients.
Prior to the vote in November 2020, the panel aims to supply the MDH with final guidelines and regulations.
“We are structuring who becomes a registered patient,” Barragan said.
During the first session, Barragan said the panel discussed which ailments someone could have to apply for a medicinal marijuana card and what type of business would be able to receive a license to sell and grow the product.
In addition, the panel also discussed zoning ordinances specific to local communities. This includes where cities and towns would allow a medicinal dispensary to operate. For comparison, liquor stores are prohibited from being within 400 feet from a church or school.
Enriching Our Communities
Barragan said the panel also discussed how much of a tax percentage a community would receive from having a dispensary. One other major point of discussion was product management. He said this included discussing how much a grower in the state would be allowed to produce.
“You definitely don’t want to have everyone in this industry growing a million pounds of marijuana,” Barragan said. “You’ll have a price crash. You have to be able to regulate this stuff.”
As of now, there are 34 states where marijuana is legal in some way, whether is it is medicinal, recreational or both. Barragan said that even if Mississippi is the last in the country to legalize it in some capacity, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“We’re learning from [other states’] mistakes,” he said. “They have made a ton of mistakes in different parts of the United States where they thought marijuana was going to [grow the economy] and help all these people.”
Barragan said due to the misregulation of the product, the hemp-plant product infrastructure crumbled.
Although the panel is in it beginning stages, each discussion will be narrowed down to specifics in the future. The panel will reconvene in two months to continue the discussion of specific ailments a patient can have to qualify for a card.
By the spring of 2020, Barragan said there will be a first draft of the regulations that will then be presented to the Strategic Round Table. In the summer of 2020, the initial draft will then be presented to the department of health.
By November 2020, regulations will be set and ready for voters to make their decision.