Mississippi: Lawmakers Advance Different Medical Marijuana Proposal

A three-fifths majority in the Mississippi State Senate approved Senate Draft 2765, which aims to replace the program originally approved by voters on election day with a nationwide program for access to medicinal cannabis. This program (Initiative 65) will be legally challenged in the State Supreme Court and would be declared null and void if successful.

Senate Law 2765 would only go into effect if the Supreme Court rejects Initiative 65. 73 percent of voters opted for I-65 in November.

Senate Bill 2765 is somewhat similar to I-65. It allows qualified patients access to up to 2.5 ounces of medicinal cannabis per 14 day period. This is consistent with the ownership restrictions set out in the measure approved by the voter. The bill also includes comprehensive protection for students, homes and parents for patients and would tax the sale of medical cannabis at seven percent.

Legislators had previously tried and failed to convince voters to adopt a legally supported medical cannabis program, Measure 65A. Voters rejected this proposal in November in favor of measure 65.

The ongoing legal battle over Measure 65 is the result of a lawsuit brought by Madison City officials – including the city’s mayor. The lawsuit argues that the legislature’s failure to update the guidelines for petitioners should invalidate the vote on the initiative. In particular, state law requires that petitioners collect an equal percentage of signatures from five congressional districts. However, after the reallocation in 2000, there are only four congressional districts in the state. Legislators have since failed to update the law. Nonetheless, the litigants have not similarly questioned the validity of a separate initiative that also appeared in the 2020 ballot, or the validity of previous election measures, although the petitioners for those initiatives did not act differently than those who supported the marijuana measure .

Separate lawsuits in Montana and South Dakota also seek to reverse election results for legalizing marijuana in those states. The South Dakota litigation was initiated by Republic Governor Kristi Noem. On Monday, a South Dakota Circuit Court judge sided with the governor and ruled that the election result should be annulled. This decision is expected to be appealed in the state’s Supreme Court. Opponents of a medical marijuana polling initiative for Nebraska in 2020 managed to remove the measure from the poll before Nebraskans had a chance to vote.

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