Almost a week after the state legalized medical cannabis, Mississippi’s main supplier of electricity said it may not offer services to producers in the incoming industry.
Last Wednesday, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) said in a statement obtained by local media that while it respects the state’s decisions, it has to comply with federal laws and won’t provide resources to marijuana cultivation or distribution businesses.
The federally owned power provider says it reached out to federal agencies including the Department of Justice for guidance, and based on that it would publicly communicate potential changes to its policy.
“While some states have enacted (or may soon enact) laws permitting the cultivation and distribution of marijuana for either medical or recreational purposes, marijuana, regardless of its intended use, remains a Schedule I substance under the federal Control Substances Act of 1970,” reads a statement first reported by the North Mississippi Daily Journal.
The announcement comes days after Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act, after both the state House and Senate voted in favour of the bill at end of January.
TVA put out this statement last week saying it cannot use any “federal resources” for the cultivation and distribution of marijuana, including for legal medicinal use on some states. But the statement is very technical and leaves a lot of questions unanswered. pic.twitter.com/WkDLCHtz9g
— Taylor Vance (@TaylorVanceDJ) February 7, 2022
The TVA says federal resources and funds can’t used for activities that violate federal law, but it receives no taxpayer money and operates similarly to a private for-profit company, according to its website.
“TVA recognizes that we have an obligation to provide wholesale power supply to local power companies (LPCs) under the wholesale power contract which is governed by federal law and that LPCs have an obligation to serve local customers under state law,” reads the statement.
But the power company has asked its employees to report any local power companies that serve cannabis clients, and management will decide if they report it to authorities that have jurisdiction to enforce the Federal Controlled Substances Act.
The TVA provides electricity for 153 local power companies serving 10 million people in Tennessee, and parts of six surrounding states, as well as 57 large industrial customers and federal installations.
Many of the municipally owned companies in Northeast Mississippi receive their power from TVA. It’s unclear if those businesses will be able to offer their own power services to a cannabis operator.
Starting in June, the Mississippi State Department of Health will start reviewing applications for patients, medical practitioners, as well as for cultivation, processing, testing and other cannabis-related licences.