In a rare Friday release, the Mississippi Supreme Court issued its decision today on the case involving the validity of the process by which the constitutional amendment for medical marijuana via Initiative 65 made its way on the 2020 ballot. The decision comes a month after oral arguments were heard by the Justices.
Justices granted the petition, reversed the Secretary of State’s certification of Initiative 65, and held that any subsequent proceedings on it are void.
“Pursuant to the duty imposed on us by article 15, section 273(9), of the Mississippi Constitution, we hold that the petition submitted to the Secretary of State seeking to place Initiative 65 on the ballot for the November 3, 2020, general election was insufficient. Because Initiative 65 was placed on the ballot without meeting the section 273(3) prerequisites for doing so, it was placed on the ballot in violation of the Mississippi Constitution. 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.”
Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler filed a petition days before the November General Election challenging the initiative’s validity, questioning the signatures filed with the Secretary of State’s office under the old five Congressional District statute. The filing named Secretary of State Michael Watson in his official capacity, however current Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann was the Secretary of State at the time of the initiative’s certification.
According to the Mississippi Constitution, “…An initiative to amend the Constitution may be proposed by a petition signed over a twelve month period by qualified electors equal in number to at least twelve percent (12%) of the votes for all candidates for Governor in the last gubernatorial election. The signatures of the qualified electors from any congressional district shall not exceed one-fifth (1/5) of the total number of signatures required to qualify an initiative petition for placement upon the ballot…”
Initiative 65 was adopted by voters with over 70% approval. Since that time, the Mississippi Department of Health has been actively working to implement the medical marijuana program as outlined in the constitutional amendment.
Read the full opinion below: