Ex-governor seeks to open medical marijuana testing center

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Former Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove is joining forces with a health official to seek a state license to open a medical marijuana testing center.

The Mississippi State Department of Health began accepting applications Wednesday for the state’s new medical marijuana program for patients, physicians, growers, processors, testers and transportation providers and waste disposal.

Musgrove and Quentin Whitwell, who are both attorneys, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that they are applying for a license to open Magnolia Tech Labs in Marshall County.


“To me, medical marijuana is … a natural progression from health care options in Mississippi and America,” Musgrove said. “I mean, to me it’s obvious that it will eventually be offered in all 50 states.”

A large majority of Mississippi voters approved a medical marijuana ballot initiative in November 2020, but the state Supreme Court struck down that election’s results six months later, ruling that the initiative was not incorrectly on the ballot. Earlier this year, current Governor Tate Reeves signed legislation to create a medical marijuana program.

Whitwell is involved with three rural hospitals in northern Mississippi. He is owner and CEO of Panola Medical Center in Batesville, director and CEO of Quitman Community Hospital in Marks, and chief operating officer and legal counsel for Alliance Healthcare System Hospital in Holly Springs, Marshall County.

Musgrove is a Democrat who served as governor from 2000 to 2004 after serving one term as lieutenant governor. For nine years he was chair of the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Social Services.

Whitwell, who now lives in Oxford, served as a Republican on Jackson City Council from 2011 to 2014.

The two men said they had known each other for years.

Whitwell said their facility would test the potency of marijuana. He would also check the products for impurities and pollutants.

“We immediately recognized that if the product isn’t safe and isn’t authenticated as what someone would expect to get, there could be a problem,” Whitwell said.

They said they plan to open in Holly Springs because they have access to a facility that has already done toxicology testing.

“Essentially the same equipment is used for medical marijuana testing,” Whitwell said. “So we already have staff and people, staff who know how to do the tests properly.”

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