Mississippi Medical Marijuana Initiative Overturned By Mayor And State Supreme Court

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The recent ruling by the Mississippi Supreme Court has undoubtedly sent shockwaves across the entire nation, particularly among advocates of marijuana legalization. The decision to overturn Initiative 65, which aimed to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program in the state, has been met with profound disappointment and frustration. This ruling not only represents a significant setback for Mississippians who rely on medical cannabis to manage their symptoms, but it also sets a worrisome precedent for other states that are considering similar measures. The implications of this decision are far-reaching, and it remains to be seen what the future holds for medical marijuana in Mississippi and beyond.

Support for Medical Marijuana under Initiative 65

The decision rendered by the Court in a 6-3 vote has invalidated a citizen-led initiative that was introduced on the ballot with over 214,000 signatures. This initiative was overwhelmingly approved by the people with 74% of the vote. The support for legal cannabis among the populace of Mississippi is unprecedented in the south. However, the verdict of the state Supreme Court disregarded the voices of the Mississippi voters.

Ken Newburger, Executive Director for the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association lamented, “The Mississippi Supreme Court just overturned the will of the people of Mississippi. Patients will now continue the suffering that so many Mississippians voted to end.”

Initiative 65 was a truly groundbreaking effort that had garnered immense support from voters across the state. Its goal was to create a comprehensive medical marijuana program that would provide patients with access to much-needed relief and treatment options. The initiative had been carefully crafted to ensure that it would be effective and sustainable, and had been backed by a wide range of established business owners, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders.

As momentum for the initiative continued to build, many people were eagerly preparing to take advantage of the new opportunities that would be created by the program. Business owners were working tirelessly to obtain licenses for marijuana facilities, while the state regulatory agency was actively developing new rules and regulations that would guide the program’s implementation. Despite all of this positive momentum, however, there were some who saw fit to challenge the initiative. It was difficult for many supporters to understand why anyone would oppose such a promising and much-needed program, particularly given the overwhelming support it had received from voters.

Nonetheless, those who opposed Initiative 65 remained steadfast in their opposition, and it soon became clear that the battle for medical marijuana in the state was far from over. Nevertheless, supporters of the initiative remained determined to see it through, and were confident that they would ultimately prevail in their efforts to create a better future for patients across the state.

Mayor Mary of Madison, Marijuana Foe

“Mayor Mary” has ruled Madison for almost 30 years, consolidating local control and enforcing strict business guidelines. She’s had conflicts with officials, faced financial scandals, and opposes weed.

Her out-of-touch views on marijuana are akin to the film, Reefer Madness , as she clearly demonstrated her complete misunderstanding of medical marijuana and the potential positive economic and public health benefits it could bring to her community.
While announcing her lawsuit against Initiative 65, she characterized her actions as fighting to keep “pot shops” out of her city by stating, “We were looking at what standing we could have. What we could do regarding protecting our citizens, our schools, our plans and the future of Madison. Cities won’t be allowed to zone where the pot shops could locate. They’ve got a blank check to do what they want in zoning our communities.”

Medical Marijuana and the Mississippi Initiative Process

Clearly Hawkins Butler’s problems with the initiative stem from misunderstanding marijuana and losing complete zoning control over medical marijuana dispensary facilities. Yet her argument in the lawsuit called out a technicality in the initiative process by deeming the entire process “broken”. She asserted that the signature-gathering requirement is mathematically impossible with four congressional districts, and the initiative certification is based on the state’s previous five congressional districts and not the current four districts.

Regrettably, it is with great disappointment that we must inform Mississippi patients and advocates of the ballot initiative process that the state Supreme Court has come to a decision that aligns with the views of Hawkins Butler. This news is disheartening for those who have been working tirelessly to expand access to medical cannabis in the state, as well as for those who believe in the fundamental principles of democracy and the power of the people to effect change through the ballot box. Despite the setback, however, we remain committed to continuing the fight for the rights of patients and the advancement of medical cannabis legislation in Mississippi. We are confident that with continued dedication and perseverance, we will eventually achieve the change we seek.

“Whether with intent, by oversight, or for some other reason, the drafters of section 273(3) wrote a ballot-initiative process that cannot work in a world where Mississippi has fewer than five representatives in Congress,” Justice Josiah Coleman wrote for the majority in the ruling Friday. “To work in today’s reality, it will need amending — something that lies beyond the power of the Supreme Court.”
The justices ultimately ruled that Initiative 65 was void because the state’s initiative process is outdated. Mississippi had 5 congressional districts when the initiative process was written into the state constitution as Section 273 in the 1990’s. The law required petitioners to get one-fifth of their signatures from each congressional district. But the state shrunk to four districts after the 2000 census, and language in the law was never updated.
Mississippi Supreme Court ruling affects more than medical marijuana; it invalidates state ballot initiatives, including one to remove Confederate flag imagery from the state flag. Mississippi remains without medical marijuana and associated with the land of dixie.

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