Last week, the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned Initiative 65, which had been passed by voters last fall and would have established a medical marijuana program in the state. This decision not only prevents Mississippi from establishing a medical marijuana program but also other citizen-led attempts to place issues on the statewide ballot, such as a call for early voting and Medicaid expansion.
In November, nearly 1.3 million Mississippi voters cast ballots, with more than 766,000 in support of Initiative 65, which mandated that the state Health Department create a medical marijuana program by the middle of the year. Mississippi was one of nearly three dozen states to allow medical marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Following last week’s explosive decision by the Mississippi Supreme Court, which struck down both the state’s new medical marijuana program Mississippi Supreme Court Overturns Medical Marijuana Program and the entire initiative process, in which people collect signatures to put items on the ballot for voters to determine, political leaders, are considering calling a special legislative session. According to sources close to the situation, lawmakers have discussed a special session with Gov. Tate Reeves’ (R) office.
What is a ‘Special Legislative Session’?
A special session is the meeting to discuss the outcome of the denial to establish a medical marijuana program in Mississippi. Legislators could use a special session to establish a medical marijuana policy and possibly correct the wording in the state’s initiative process that culminated in the Supreme Court ruling last week. Without a special session, the Legislature will have to wait until January 2022 to introduce a medical marijuana program. It will take much longer to reinstate the initiative process, as it would entail a two-thirds vote in both houses of the Legislature and then voter approval, most likely in November 2022. The House minority leader, Rep. Robert Johnson (D), who was critical of the Supreme Court ruling last week, said he would support a special session to address both issues. Secretary of State Michael Watson (R), who controls state elections and the initiative process, expressed his support for the governor’s call for a special session on social media.
Mississippi Medical Marijuana Program Was Not The Only Initiative Hindered
In order to get on the ballot, the initiatives need signatures from five congressional districts. Due to the population in Mississippi, the state only has four districts making it an issue for the launch of the medical marijuana program. Due to Mississippi’s initiative process requiring signatures for 5 congressional districts instead of the original 4, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that the medical marijuana program is void.
Six proposals that were at various stages of trying to gather the requisite number of signatures were killed in the process of voiding the process. These were the initiatives:
- Medicaid expansion.
- Early voting is being implemented.
- Putting term limits in place.
- Recreational marijuana should be legalized.
- Allowing voters to revive the old flag, which featured a Confederate battle symbol in its design.
- The Confederate combat symbol was removed from the 1890 flag. The Legislature has already taken care of this.
The initiative process should be overturned, according to the complaint, because the Constitution requires signatures to be collected fairly from five congressional districts, as they were in 1990. According to the complaint, the state lost a U.S. House seat in 2000 as a result of Census data, making it difficult to collect the signatures required by the Constitution.
Two measures that passed in 2011 with signatures from the original five congressional districts are also in question, as is whether there will be attempts to challenge those proposals. These bills made it mandatory to vote with a government-issued photo ID and prohibited the government from taking private property for the benefit of any private body. The Legislature also adopted the voter identification question as general law after voters approved its inclusion in the Constitution. So, if the voter ID initiative is overturned, it’s unclear how the general law will be affected.
Click Here to learn more about what My Marijuana Cards is doing to help inform prospective medical marijuana card patients in Mississippi. Be sure to follow our social media platforms and subscribe to our newsletter. We are here to keep you up to date on the progress of the denial of Initiative 65 and everything in Mississippi relating to medical marijuana and its existence of a program. Give us a call at 877-783-1805 and our friendly patient coordinators will inform you of any updates and advances of the supposed program.