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Marijuana testing facility started by ex-governor set to open in January

Image courtesy of Harvard Health

Progress has been made in the slow-moving process of medical marijuana being dispensed in the Magnolia State with two well-known Mississippi leaders expecting to open their testing lab soon.

In June, former Governor Ronnie Musgrove teamed up with Panola Medical Center CEO Quentin Whitwell to open one of Mississippi’s first medical marijuana testing facilities in Holly Springs. Now, the two are inching closer to finally having the testing facility up and running as they have all the necessary equipment but just lack the required licensure.

“Most of the growers will probably be ready sometime toward the end of January or maybe February. We have been granted our provisional license by the State Department of Health. What that does is moves us to the next level of getting the [International Organization for Standardization] certification that the statute requires,” Musgrove said. “We’re in the process, right now, of having that done. We have all of the equipment. The certification will come and we believe that will happen in the month of December so that we will be ready in January.”

The laboratory, named Magnolia Tech Labs, will operate as a toxicology testing center as it has in the past, but will solely test marijuana samples. This includes marijuana that will be used for both smoking and consuming in edibles. With strict state laws being enacted on medical cannabis, Whitwell is hoping to get started sooner than later so that product will be available as dispensaries begin to open in Mississippi.

“It’s a true laboratory and the state has specified 39 different terpenes, all of the mycotoxins, and whether it’s got any impure minerals, and all of those different things. It’s a very laborious process,” Whitwell said. “We expect to get on the road to the final validation very quickly so we can be up and running in January, but it’s arduous. The state has put some very strenuous regulations out there.”

After watching his wife suffer in writhing pain leading up to her death, Musgrove is hoping medical cannabis can relieve others of the struggles his wife endured. Whitwell, a hospital executive, sees this as a medical advancement that can have a positive effect on residents of the state.

“This is how it works. Somebody is gonna grow it and somebody is gonna sell it, but in order to get it to market, it’s gotta be tested. As a hospital operator and manager, I also recognize that this is a medical opportunity and it needs to be safe for the actual patients,” Whitwell said.

Magnolia Tech Labs will not be in the process of growing or selling product. The lab will serve as a regulatory agent to ensure that safe and legal medical marijuana is being sold in Mississippi dispensaries.

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