Rapid Analytics files appeal with MSDH; files protective order protecting its testing samples

Published 12:13 pm Thursday, January 25, 2024

NATCHEZ — Owner Mamie Henry said Rapid Analytics remains shut down, despite the Mississippi State Department of Health releasing products the laboratory had previously tested, approving them for sale.

Henry said her company filed an appeal Jan. 5 with MSDH of its decision to shutter the Natchez cannabis testing laboratory.

“We are waiting to get a hearing date,” she said.

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She said her company has also filed for a protective order here in Adams County to protect the samples of the products it has tested. The MSDH questioned where products tested by the company were properly tested for pesticides.

“We have the samples in our vault. Initially, we were open to the department of health having our samples and testing those,” Henry said. “When they originally told us we were dealing with a public health issue, we were willing to provide them. We no longer have faith in this investigation, therefore we have had to protect our samples.”

On Dec. 21, 2023, MSDH placed an administrative hold on all cannabis products that had been tested by Rapid Analytics of Natchez. Dispensaries whose products were tested by Rapid Analytics were not allowed to sell those products until they were retested.

On Jan. 4, Gregory Flynn, director of external affairs for MSDH, said the state had contracted with Steep Hill of Jackson to do the retesting of the Rapid Analytics products.

Steep Hill, whose CEO is long-time Mississippi politician and former state auditor Stacey Pickering, is Rapid Analytics’ only competitor in the state.

“It’s like Coca-Cola being shut down and Pepsi being in control of whether they reopen or not,” Henry said.

“The state says they will not give us any information because they say it is an ongoing investigation. We provided them last Wednesday with every report on every test we have performed since we opened our doors on Jan. 1, 2022. We are not sure what they are digging for. We are still trying to find out what proof they had or what reason they had for shutting us down,” she said.

Henry said Rapid Analytics’ customers have reached out to her, voicing their support.

“All of our very loyal customers, every one, has reached out to us and shown their support and said they want to help us fight this battle, but most of them are afraid of backlash from MSDH,” she said.

“Our biggest concern right now is that we trusted this governing body to oversee the rules and regulations. In August, we asked for an audit. We asked not because we thought we were perfect, but because we are a new business and wanted their feedback on any improvements we should make. At that time, they did not give us any red flags and still haven’t gotten anything back from them,” she said.

Rapid Analytics has hired attorneys at Balch and Bingham LLP of Jackson to represent it in its fight with the state health department and its cannabis program.