Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler is challenging the referendum process.

On Wednesday, whether or not medial marijuana Initiative 65 was properly before voters in the November 2020 General Election will be argued before the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler

Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler is challenging the amount of signatures the Initiative received to be placed on the ballot. She has argued in filings that the initiative was put before voters unconstitutionally as it only required the set amount of signatures in a four congressional district make up, when Mississippi’s Constitution still operates on a five congressional district model.

Hawkins-Butler initially filed her challenge just days before the November election but the Mississippi Supreme Court did not act immediately, setting the April 14th hearing for oral arguments in January.

Secretary of State Michael Watson maintains that the process used was similar to what has occurred in the past, with the former Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann relying on an Attorney General’s opinion by then AG Jim Hood to certify the initiative and allow it to be placed on the ballot.

Amicus briefs have been filed with the Mississippi Supreme Court, both in support of the Madison Mayor’s challenge and backing the process by which the medical marijuana Initiative 65 was adopted by voters by over 70%, putting it into the state’s constitution.

During the 2021 session, the Mississippi Senate attempted multiple times to pass legislation that would have established a medical marijuana program should the state Supreme Court strike down the initiative. However, those efforts were killed by the House each time as state representatives chose not to reach beyond what voters had approved at the ballot box. The state Senate’s provisions would have changed certain aspects of the program, including allowing the product to be taxed with funds going to other state budget lines rather than solely supporting the medical marijuana program itself.

The Mississippi Supreme Court has a livestream feed of the proceedings allowing the public to watch the arguments. That livestream is set to begin at 10:30am here.