Though voters approved the initiative by a large margin last November, the Mississippi Supreme Court struck down a proposal to legalize medical marijuana in the state on a technicality.
According to The Daily Wire, Initiative 65 sought to create a medical marijuana program in Mississippi, which would have been the first state in the Deep South to do so on the will of voters. Nearly three-fourths of Mississippi voters approved the measure last fall, The Daily Wire said.
But the state Supreme Court ruled Friday that the proposal couldn’t stand, citing the fact that the state’s constitution requires voter referendums like Initiative 65 to gather signatures equally from the state’s five congressional districts. The problem? Since 2000, Mississippi has only had four congressional districts.
“We grant the petition, reverse the Secretary of State’s certification Initiative 65, and hold that any subsequent proceedings on it are void,” the court ruled, according to local NBC affiliate WLBT.
“Beyond the power”
Indeed, Mississippi’s constitution is in bad need of maintenance, and this latest ruling from the Mississippi Supreme Court makes that clear.
Voters in the state will be circumvented because of a broken process — one that can’t be fixed for months.
In the majority opinion, Justice Josiah Coleman wrote:
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.
A look ahead
According to WLBT, the Mississippi state Senate passed a bill in its last session that would have had the same effect as Initiative 65, but “would’ve kicked in only if and when the court ruled 65 unconstitutional.”
Republicans including Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann have expressed hope that the Senate will revisit the proposal when it reconvenes in January.
“This is why we did stay up past midnight having the debate,” GOP state Sen. Brice Wiggins said, as WLBT reported. “We went back-and-forth because, we the Senate, were trying to provide a program that clearly the people of Mississippi want.”
In the meantime, Wiggins admits the fault lies in the legislature “for not having updated” the state constitution sooner.
“It’s not like we haven’t had four congressional districts,” he noted, according to WLBT.