Tue. Jun 15th, 2021

The Mississippi Supreme Court on Friday issued a much-anticipated ruling that strikes down the Medical marijuana program enshrined in the state constitution by voters in November.

The ruling also voids — for now — the state’s ballot initiative process that allows voters to take matters in hand and pass constitutional amendments. The court ruled that the state’s ballot initiative process is “unworkable and inoperative” until lawmakers and voters fix state law and the constitution.

With six of the nine state justices agreeing, the court wrote, “We grant the petition, reverse the Secretary of State’s certification of initiative 65 and hold that any subsequent proceedings on it are void.”

Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler filed a Supreme Court challenge to Initiative 65 just days before voters approved it on Nov. 3. Butler argued that Mississippi’s ballot initiative process is constitutionally flawed and Initiative 65 was not legally before voters. She said a provision requiring an equal number of signatures from Mississippi’s five congressional districts could not be met, because Mississippi has only had four districts for two decades.

Besides derailing the medical marijuana program, the ruling also jeopardizes six pending ballot initiatives, including one to expand Medicaid and others to reinstate the state’s 1890 state flag, allow early voting and to approve recreational marijuana use. The ruling also could open to challenge two constitutional amendments that voters have passed since they were allowed to do so in 1992, one limiting eminent domain powers over government to take private land and one requiring a government-issued ID to vote.

The now-voided constitutional amendment passed by voters would have required Mississippi to have a medical marijuana program up and running by August.