City of Madison petitions Mississippi Supreme Court over Initiative 65

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MADISON, Miss. (WJTV) – The City of Madison and Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler
have filed an emergency petition before the Mississippi Supreme Court seeking a
declaration that Initiative 65 was unconstitutionally brought to voters.

“The constitutional process for amending our constitution has not been
followed and the public has been misled about the content of the initiative.
Initiative 65 gives marijuana providers greater rights than any other lawful
business. Such a significant change must be lawfully adopted,” said the
mayor.

City leaders said they’re not opposed to a well-regulated pure medical
marijuana program for the truly suffering, but they have concerns about how the
amendment was brought to the voters.

Secretary of State Michael Watson (R-Miss.) said, “As I understand it, there
was an Attorney General’s opinion. I’m not going to get in on the
specifics of it, but as the previous administration understood the law to be at
that time, they followed the law. So, it’s going to be up to the Court to
decide whether or not that was the proper procedure.”

In placing Initiative 65 on the ballot, the Secretary of State followed a
2009 opinion of the Mississippi Attorney General which
stated, “The Secretary of State should require that 20% of the signatures of an
initiative petition be from each of the “old” five congressional districts as
they existed immediately prior to the adoption of the four current
congressional districts.”

“The Secretary of State properly qualified Initiative 65 under the same
constitutional procedures used for every other successful voter initiative. The
lawsuit from the City of Madison is meritless,” said Mississippians for
Compassionate Care Communications Director Jamie Grantham. “This is simply a
last-ditch effort by political and bureaucratic opponents to deny relief to
patients with 22 specific debilitating medical conditions.”

The question of whether to establish a medical marijuana program in Mississippi
will appear on the November 3rd general election ballot. Voters will be faced with a two-part question, where they will be asked to choose between two competing measures. Voters will first have the option to select “yes” to approve either measure for a medical marijuana program in
Mississippi or “no” to oppose both measures.

Voters will then have the option to choose between Initiative 65, put on the
ballot by the people through the initiative process, or Alternative 65A, placed
on the ballot by politicians.

On Tuesday, several parents made a plea and showed solidarity at the Hyatt
Place in Ridgeland in favor of Initiative 65. Among those parents was Angie
Calhoun, whose son Austin had to leave Mississippi to treat his seizures, severe joint pain, chronic nausea and vomiting with medical marijuana: “Austin’s senior year, he saw over 20 doctors and was prescribed 17 prescription medication to take every day,” said Calhoun.

Initiative 65 would create a medical marijuana program that would help
patients with 22 debilitating diseases such as cancer, seizures, and
post-traumatic stress disorder. The program would be regulated through the
Mississippi State Department of Health, and patients will have to meet with a
doctor before they can be certified.

Alternative 65A was created by members of the state legislature. It would restrict medical marijuana to patients with terminal illnesses.

Voters will choose between the two initiatives during the General Election
on November 3.

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