The Mississippi Supreme Court is due to hear arguments for and against an upcoming medical cannabis program on Wednesday.
After being passed in the November 2020 referendum, Initiative 65 is now being blocked by Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler because the state’s initiative process is out of date and Initiative 65 should not have been chosen at all.
Disagreements over Mississippi’s Congressional Districts
Mary Hawkins Butler’s main argument is based on Mississippi Congressional Districts and how many signatures are required by a particular Congressional District.
According to the Mississippi Constitution, an election initiative must receive an equal number of signatures from each of the state’s five congressional districts. While two of the Congressional districts were merged in the 2000 census, the language used in the constitution was not changed.
On December 28, 2020, prosecutors filed papers detailing the state of Mississippi’s congressional counties, arguing that definitions for elections and in the constitution are different.
Municipal responsibility regarding cannabis regulation
Along with the constitutional definitions of congressional districts, Mary Butler, the State Department of Health and the Mississippi Municipal League oppose Initiative 65 because the initiative is designed to limit the state community’s ability to regulate where cannabis companies can be located.
The Department of Health has pledged its rejection of Initiative 65 amid impending changes in the initiative that would “turn the department into something it isn’t,” and would put even more strain on the department than the coronavirus pandemic currently has.
Despite opposition from Mayor Butler and the Department of Health, Initiative 65 supporters have started preparing for the upcoming trial. Senator Kevin Blackwell (R) and Initiative 65 supporters attempted to enforce the rules for Mississippi’s medical marijuana program in the event that Initiative 65 is rejected by the state Supreme Court. However, this was rejected by the state House of Representatives and Initiative 65 supporters saw it as an attempt to bypass the will of the electorate.
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