The ruling that left Mississippi without a medical marijuana program and effectively wiped out the state’s initiative process will stand as the State Supreme Court has denied a ‘motion to intervene’ filed by supporters of a pair of active initiatives.
MEVI 78, the group pushing an early voting initiative, and Dr. David Allen, whose initiative would legalize recreational marijuana in Mississippi, filed the motion on June 1st in hopes of forcing a rehearing in the case. Today, the state’s highest court issued its ruling that the motion has been denied.
The court ruling from mid-May struck down Initiative 65—the medical marijuana program adopted by voters back in November—deeming that it was improperly certified by the Secretary of State’s Office. Because the Legislature failed to update the code section related to initiatives to reflect the loss of the state’s fifth congressional seat following the 2000 census, the court ruled that “a ballot-initiative process that cannot work in a world where Mississippi has fewer than five representatives in Congress.”
Immediately after the ruling, supporters of medical marijuana and of the initiative process began to demand action from state leaders. While Governor Tate Reeves, House Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann each seem to agree on the need to reinstate the initiative process, they also seem to agree that it may have to wait until November 2022—the next statewide election. This is because of the fact that whatever is approved by the Legislature must also be approved by voters.
As for medical marijuana, there seems to be a greater sense of urgency. Governor Reeves, who has the ability to call a special session, said Tuesday that that lawmakers are making progress on a new piece of legislation.
“As I appreciate it, they are moving towards having some draft legislation within the next couple of weeks,” Reeves explained.
After a hearing at the capitol Monday, Senator Kevin Blackwell told Mississippi Today that he believes a special session could occur in August. A special session typically will not be called until an agreement between the House and Senate is reached.