Supporters of Initiative 65 rally outside Mississippi Supreme Court


JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Supporters of Initiative 65 rallied outside the Mississippi Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Organizers with the “Standup for MS Voters” rally said they are concerned about the Mississippi Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the medical marijuana initiative.

Jonathan Brown said, “We were dealt a big blow when the supreme court held down their decision. We were a little bummed, but now we’re fired up.”

The justices heard arguments in April 2021 for a lawsuit that challenged the state initiative process and seeks to block development of a medical marijuana program. The lawsuit was filed by Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler. It argued the state’s initiative process is outdated and Initiative 65 should not have been on the ballot.

Voters in November 2020 overwhelmingly approved Initiative 65, which requires the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) to establish a medical marijuana program by the middle of this year.

To get Initiative 65 on the statewide ballot, organizers gathered signatures from the five congressional districts that Mississippi used during the 1990s. They did that based on legal advice issued years ago by the state attorney general’s office.

The Mississippi Constitution said petitioners must gather an equal number of signatures from five congressional districts. The state dropped from five congressional districts to four after the 2000 Census, but the constitution’s language about initiatives was not updated. Butler’s lawsuit argued that this creates a mathematical impossibility with four districts because the constitution still specifies that no more than one-fifth of the signatures may come from any single district.

Camille Wright’s battle with cancer brought her to the rally. She’s advocating for thousands of Mississippians.

“There is chronic pain that goes with that, and I am all about the medical marijuana, not just for myself, but thousands suffer with chronic pain all the time,” Wright stated.

Last week, Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann (R-Miss.) said the State Senate will be ready if Gov. Tate Reeves (R-Miss.) decides to call a Special Session on the issue.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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