Update on Medical Marijuana in Mississippi: COURT VOIDS INITIATIVE 65

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

The Mississippi Medical Marijuana program will not go forward – at least not at this time. On Friday, the Mississippi Supreme Court handed down its decision in the City of Madison’s challenge to Initiative 65, Mary Hawkins Butler v. Michael Watson, 2020-IA-01199-SCT. The court’s decision voids Initiative 65’s ballot certification and any subsequent proceeding, including the November 3, 2020, election results.

The Mississippi Constitution requires that no more than one-fifth of the total signatures to place an initiative on the ballot may come from any one congressional district. According to the court, it is mathematically impossible to collect the correct proportion of signatures. The court, “remaining mindful” of “a strong, if not overwhelming, majority” of Mississippi voters that approved Initiative 65, nonetheless held that the loss of congressional representation in 1991 did, indeed, break the Mississippi Constitution’s ballot initiative process so that, absent amendment, it no longer functions.

With this ruling, a Mississippi Medical Marijuana program can be legalized in only two ways: (1) the Mississippi Legislature can enact a Medical Marijuana program through legislation, if signed into law by the governor; or (2) the Mississippi Legislature can amend the Mississippi Constitution to fix the broken initiative clause and the Mississippi citizens can redo the initiative process, which would require an additional statewide vote.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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