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It's Final: Mississippi Cancels Medical Cannabis Legalization, 'Americans Should Be Outraged'

May 17, 2021 8:18 am
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It's Final: Mississippi Cancels Medical Cannabis Legalization, 'Americans Should Be Outraged'

The Mississippi Supreme Court on Friday overturned the state's voter-approved medical cannabis initiative in a six to three vote, reported NORML.

What happened

During November’s elections, 74.1% of Mississippi voters said yes to medical marijuana reform, which would make cannabis legal for people suffering from specific conditions.

At the time, voters were choosing from two medical cannabis bills – Initiative 65 and Initiative 65A. Initiative 65, which was put on the ballot by advocates and considered more patient-oriented was approved.

Just prior to the vote, Mississippi officials sought to disqualify the state’s cannabis reform measure, claiming it was unlawfully placed on the ballot.

It turns out that the Mississippi law demands that “signatures of the qualified electors from any congressional district shall not exceed one-fifth (1/5) of the total number of signatures required to qualify an initiative petition for placement upon the ballot.”

The problem is that the policy was written at a time when the state had five congressional districts, which has since been lowered by one. Since the policy was not updated, it caused irregularities.

See also: How to Invest in Cannabis Stocks

Why It Matters

The big irony lies in the reality that Mississippi did not have five congressional districts for more than 20 years, but this fact never before disabled other new ballot initiatives to amend the state’s constitution, reported NORML.

A majority of the state Supreme Court argued in its ruling that there was nothing else they could have done -“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. To work in today’s reality, it will need amending—something that lies beyond the power of the Supreme Court.”

In a dissent, Justice James D. Maxwell II wrote, “Not only is this particular initiative dead but so is Mississippi’s citizen initiative process.”

NORML State Policies Manager Carly Wolf commented on the ruling, saying it doesn’t matter if one is in favor of cannabis reform, but that these were “overtly undemocratic tactics”, which should make Americans furious. “As a result, the most vulnerable Mississippians will continue to be denied safe access to a therapy that could offer them significant relief from severely debilitating conditions.”

What’s Next

Cannabis activists like the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association are now unsure what to do next, how to get a similar measure on the house and senate floor.

Photo by Kym MacKinnon on Unsplash

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