Medical marijuana for Mississippi now rests with state Supreme Court

Published: Apr. 14, 2021 at 6:40 PM CDT
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MADISON, Miss. (WMC) - For months, the mayor of Madison, Mississippi has expressed concerns over the constitutionality of Initiative 65, a ballot initiated constitutional amendment that would allow doctors in the state to prescribe medical marijuana for patients.

Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler says the language in the current constitutional language that allows petitions to be put on the ballot creates a mathematical problem regarding signature gathering.

Wednesday, the issue went before the state Supreme Court.

“The case before the court is not about the wisdom of legalizing medical marijuana,” said Kaytie Pickett, legal representative for Hawkins-Butler. “What this case is about is the secretary of state’s unconstitutional determination of the sufficiency of the petition supporting Initiative 65.”

The language in the constitution requires that of the signatures gathered, no more than 20% of signatures can come from any one of the five congressional districts.

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The problem with this, according to Hawkins-Butler and her team, is that Mississippi no longer has five congressional districts; the state has four.

With that, the claim is it’s impossible to acquire the number of signatures required to have the initiative placed on the ballot.

“You take one-fifth, one-fifth, one-fifth, one-fifth from the four congressional districts, you get eighty percent of the total required number of signatures, not 100%,” said Pickett.

Representatives for the state respond to the claims by saying the five congressional districts from 1992, when this particular language was drafted, are still recognized by state code, even though they aren’t recognized federally.

“Thirty-five boxes of signatures that were submitted over to the secretary of state’s office were organized by Congressional district, by the five existing in our code,” said Justin Matheny with the state attorney general’s office. “And so, there was a set for one, two, three, four, five.”

The state’s Supreme Court will be issuing their opinion on the matter in the near future.

Data shows 766,478 Mississippians, nearly75% of those who voted on the issue, voted in support of Initiative 65 in the November elections.

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