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Law Mississippi

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
Mississippi medical marijuana: Group nears signature goal for ballot 2020

Organizers of a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana in Mississippi say they have collected and certified more than two-thirds of the necessary signatures to put the issue before voters next year.

Jamie Grantham, a spokeswoman for Medical Marijuana 2020, said Monday the group must submit more than 86,000 to the Mississippi Secretary of State by a Sept. 6 deadline. She said the goal is to finish collecting enough signatures by the end of this month, so that there's time for a sufficient number to be certified by circuit clerks before the deadline.

Medical and recreational marijuana use remain illegal in Mississippi, unlike 33 states and Washington, D.C., which have some level of legalization law on the books.

A Mississippi task force is presently studying whether hemp should be grown in Mississippi. Hemp belongs to the same species as marijuana, but holds only trace amounts of the psychoactive compound, THC, that gets pot smokers high.

The Medical Marijuana 2020 campaign hopes to pass a initiative that would allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana for certain medical conditions, including cancer, epilepsy, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain and others. The group says the state Department of Health would regulate the program, including treatment centers that would sell the pot products.

The signatures must be evenly distributed from each of Mississippi's five historic congressional districts, as they appeared in 2000. If it all checks out, the question could go before Mississippi voters in the November 2020 election.

Grantham said the group has continued to hire signature gathering employees in recent months, and has been both knocking on doors and attending community events around the state.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
Medical Marijuana Will Likely Be On Mississippi’s 2020 Ballot Following Signature Submission

Mississippi voters will likely have the opportunity to vote on a measure to legalize medical marijuana after activists submitted more than the required number of signatures to qualify for the state’s 2020 ballot on Wednesday.


Though the signatures must still be verified by the secretary of state, Mississippians for Compassionate Care (MCC) said that after collecting more than 214,000 signatures, county clerks have already certified 105,686—which is about 20,000 signatures more than required to qualify.


“The medical marijuana petition, No. 65, was filed yesterday,” a spokesperson for the secretary of state’s office told The Clarion Ledger. “At this time, we do not know whether the signature requirement has been fulfilled. We are in the process of reviewing and determining the number of signatures so as to file with the Legislature on the first day of of the 2020 session in accordance with (state law).”


In addition to reaching the statewide total target, advocates must also collect a minimum number of signatures from each of the state’s congressional districts in order for the proposal to qualify for ballot access.


MCC spokesperson Jamie Grantham said that the campaign saw “overwhelming support from the number of signatures we received.”


The proposed measure would let patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions access marijuana after consulting with a doctor and receiving a recommendation. There are 22 conditions—including cancer, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder—that would qualify patients under the program.


Each patient would be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis per 14-day period.


Mississippi currently has a limited CBD program in place, but access is limited due to restrictions on who can provide the non-intoxicating oil.


Organizers behind the initiative point to polling showing that upwards of 77 percent of Mississippians support medical cannabis legalization. It does face opposition from Gov. Phil Bryant (R) and the Mississippi State Board of Health, however.




 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
"“With all the pharmaceutical advancements we have seen, it would seem strange to bring pot into the equation.”"

Oh yeah, just give them narcotics,

Mississippi Voters Will Decide Whether To Legalize Medical Marijuana

Mississippi became the latest state this week to add a medical marijuana question to its 2020 ballot.
Voters there will have the opportunity to decide on Ballot Initiative 65, which, if approved, will grant access to medical cannabis for patients suffering from various conditions like cancer and epilepsy.

Mississippians for Compassionate Care, the group that spearheaded the ballot initiative, announced the news Wednesday on its Facebook page, saying that the Secretary of State in Mississippi certified the signatures submitted.

The group submitted 105,686 signatures to the secretary of state’s office in September—easily exceeding the minimum of 86,185 signatures required by Mississippi law for an initiative to qualify for the ballot.

“We exceeded the requirement with overwhelming numbers in each of the districts totaling more than 105,000 certified signatures from Mississippi voters!” the group trumpeted in the Facebook post on Wednesday.

Should voters approve the initiative in November, Mississippi would join more than 30 other states that have already legalized medical marijuana. Voters in South Dakota will also have the opportunity to approve medical marijuana— as well as recreational pot —at the ballot this year.

Medical Marijuana in Mississippi
If Initiative 65 is approved by Mississippi voters, physicians in the state could start prescribing cannabis to patients suffering from a host of debilitating medical conditions: cancer, epilepsy and other seizure disorders, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, HIV/AIDS, chronic pain, ALS, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, sickle-cell anemia, autism with aggressive or self-injurious behavior, and spinal cord injuries among others. Those patients would then obtain an identification card from the Mississippi Department of Health.

Activists in Mississippi spearheaded the petition drive in the fall of 2018; by February of last year, they had more than 45,000 signatures.
Mississippians for Compassionate Care have expressed confidence about their chances throughout the process, citing encouraging poll numbers.
Jamie Grantham, a spokeswoman for the group, said last month that she believes the initiative will pass if it goes before the voters.

“The polling is extremely positive,” Grantham said. “It polls above 77 percent, with every age group, religious affiliation, political affiliation and other groups. Also, to that point, we saw the overwhelming support from the number of signatures we received.”

But the initiative will face some heavy opposition, including from the state’s Republican governor, Phil Bryant, who said as early as 2018 that he would be opposing the proposal.

“I will be voting “no” if this makes it on the ballot,” Bryant said in a Facebook post at the time. “With all the pharmaceutical advancements we have seen, it would seem strange to bring pot into the equation.”
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
Medical ‘pot’ advocacy groups cite big upsides in Mississippi plan

JACKSON • The wide-open nature of Medical Marijuana Campaign 2020’s model for a Mississippi medical marijuana sector gets a wrap-around hug from cannabis advocacy organizations and business groups.

“We like so far what we see out of Mississippi,” said Erik Altieri, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML.

That affection comes from staying clear of the cartel-like systems adopted in states such as Florida. NORML and groups like the National Cannabis Industry Association say the initiative’s emphasis on affordable licensing and otherwise easy entry by patients and businesses create a promising foundation on which to build a successful sector.

Florida and some other states mandate a vertical integration system by which dispensary companies must compete for a limited number of licenses and develop, grow, transport and sell the product.

Shunning that sort of set up is a smart move for Medical Marijuana Campaign 2020’s effort to make the Magnolia State the 34th state to enact medical marijuana, Altieri said.

“They seem to be trying to make marijuana accessible to those who need it,” he said.

Central to the effort is what is missing from it – caps on licenses. Equally central is a pledge to keep license fees affordable.

“This allows for a free market approach,” said Jamie Grantham, executive director of the group heading the ballot effort, Mississippians for Compassionate Care.

“We looked at what is working well” in other medical marijuana states, she said in an interview.

“Free market” has shown a lot of promise in Oklahoma since voters approved medical cannabis in June 2018. By last October, the state of 4 million people had 200,000 patients authorized by their physicians to have medical cannabis, a participation rate that puts it near the top among the 33 states that have some form of medical cannabis legislation in place.

NORML’s Altieri called Oklahoma “a good success story on the access front” and credited its “very open” uncapped licensing process.

Likewise, Morgan Fox at the National Cannabis Industry Association credits the popularity of Oklahoma’s medial cannabis program to an ease-of-market-entry that gets dispensaries closer to patients.

“We’re against barriers to the industry,” said Fox, spokesman for the cannabis industry group, in an interview.

Barriers typically are income tests and capital thresholds and the like, Fox said. In Oklahoma, $2,500 gets a cannabis dispensary license. “Oklahoma and its $2,500 fee are a good place to look” for market accessibility, he noted.

Limited licensing typically means those “with the most money have the best chances of getting the licenses,” Fox said.

In October, a broker in Atlanta put two Florida medical marijuana licenses on sale for a combined $95 million, with one for $40 million and the other for $55 million.
The goal, Fox said, should be creating “a robust cannabis base without lawmakers getting in the way between the patients and their doctor.”

Mississippi Department of Health officials and members of the governing board would decide how much decision making is left to doctors and patients. And the deciders are not likely to be enthusiastic about treating patients with marijuana, having approved a resolution opposing Campaign 2020 that cites public health and safety concerns.

If voters approve Initiative No. 65 – the result of a petition drive that gained more than 200,000 signatures – the Department of Health and its board will be working from a seven-page document authorizing Mississippi doctors to treat patients with debilitating conditions.

These are illnesses such as “cancer, epilepsy or other seizures, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cachexia, post-traumatic stress disorder, for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, chronic or debilitating pain, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, glaucoma, agitation of dementias, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, sickle-cell anemia, autism with aggressive or self-injurious behaviors, pain refractory to appropriate opioid management, spinal cord disease or severe injury, intractable nausea or severe muscle spasticity.

A key part of the measure, said Campaign 2020’s Grantham, is a provision allowing doctors to authorize cannabis for conditions of a “similar kind or class” to the nearly two dozen designated in the initiative.

The Department of Health and its board will nonetheless have huge sway on what medical marijuana looks like in Mississippi, said business lawyer Whitt Steineker, co-chair of the Cannabis Industry team at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP in Birmingham.

“What Mississippi is going to do is leave a lot of discretion to the Department of Health,” Steineker said in an interview.

Expect Mississippi officials, he said, to block and divert wherever they can, including the likelihood legislators will introduce a more restrictive ballot measure of their own.

“No doubt about it that the opposition from many in power in state government in Mississippi presents a challenge to implementing this, if it passes,” Steineker said.

Even with passage, expect everyone from local zoning boards to state law enforcement “to drag their feet” on Initiative No. 65, he predicted.

But he doesn’t expect the local and state authorities to actually fully block a new law. “They will get nitpicky on technicities,” he said.

Should they refuse to apply the law, “I don’t think the courts would take to that very well,” Steineker added.

However, if the Nov. 3 voting outcome is similar to the 70 percent or more of state voters who favor medical marijuana, state officials may be less prone to setting up barriers to legal cannabis treatments, Steineker predicted.

State and local officials also would have the measure itself to deal with. It specifies that local municipalities “shall not impair the availability of and reasonable access to medical marijuana.” The proposal further mandates that state officials begin providing licenses for retailers no later than August 15, 2021.

Nothing in the proposed amendment alters rules on drugs in the workplace, according to Steineker. “If you have a drug-free workplace you can continue that,” he said.

Further, Mississippi businesses won’t have to worry about costs of their company-provided health insurance going up to cover workers who are cannabis patients. As long as marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug banned under the 1970 Controlled Substance Act, insurers won’t cover it.

With the United States having nearly 40 states with either adult-use legal marijuana or medical marijuana, lawyers like Steineker are spending ever larger parts of their workdays advising businesses on cannabis commerce. It’s unsettled terrain for banks, real estate firms, equipment companies and others wanting to venture into the emerging sector, he noted.

“I try not to go around telling people to go get a lawyer,” Steineker said, but added: “This is one you really want to take counsel on. Get a good adviser with legal experience.”

Count U.S. pharmacy owners and operators among business people who want into the sector. But their attorneys advise against entering the sector as long as federal prohibitions remain.

“Pharmacists are uniquely qualified to help patients safely adhere to their prescribed marijuana regimen,” the American Community Pharmacists Association said in a recent one-page advisory to members.

Still, under federal law, no individuals, including pharmacists, can legally dispense medical marijuana, even in those states that have passed medical marijuana legislation, said the American Community Pharmacists Association, or ACPA.

First, pharmacy businesses likely will find it difficult to find banks willing to buck federal restrictions, the ACPA said.

Further, contracts with wholesalers, third-party payers, and other business entities often have clauses prohibiting the contracting pharmacy from violating federal laws, the ACPA noted.

“The decision to offer medical marijuana services can lead to unintended consequences for pharmacists and their businesses,” the Association warned.

Pharmacy advocates, it said, should aim for state legislation that “preserves the ability of pharmacists legally to dispense medical marijuana should federal prohibitions be overturned, but which does not place the pharmacist or pharmacy in a position of legal or contractual jeopardy in the meantime.”

Supporters estimate Mississippi would initially have about 14,000 cannabis patients. It’s difficult to tell what sort of economic effect that sort of patient count would have.

“There is always an economic impact,” said Darrin Webb, state economist, in an email. “Quantifying that potential impact is the challenge. With medical marijuana, we would face a great many unknowns including possible negative impacts.”

One provision likely to have at least some economic impact: All of the product sold to Mississippi cannabis patients must be grown, produced and sold in the state, said Grantham, the Medical Marijuana Campaign 2020 head.

“This would certainly open up a new industry,” she said.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
Mississippi State Leaders Urge Voters To Consider Medical Marijuana Proposals Carefully

The effort to bring medical cannabis to Mississippi is not without challengers.

State leaders in Mississippi are urging voters to carefully consider two medical marijuana measures on the November ballot, characterizing the less restrictive of the two proposals as dangerous. Republican state Rep. Jill Ford, Ed Langton, the chairman of the Mississippi Board of Health, and Madison County Sheriff Randy Tucker said that Initiative 65, which was placed on the general election ballot via a citizen petition, would lead to an increase in drug abuse and allow cannabis dispensaries to open near schools and churches.

If passed, Initiative 65 would amend the state constitution to allow doctors to recommend cannabis as a treatment for patients with one or more of 20 qualifying serious medical conditions. The state health department would issue identification cards to patients that would allow them to obtain up to five ounces of cannabis from a licensed treatment center per month. Medical marijuana sales would be taxed at the standard sales tax rate of 7%.

‘Overburdened’ Sheriff Offers Weak Excuse To Continue Prohibition
At a Monday press briefing, Tucker maintained that legalizing medical marijuana would somehow impose a greater burden on law enforcement than prohibition.


“Law enforcement is overburdened already. I can promise you, we are pushed to the limit with the manpower, resources, and the backing of the law as it is. We are fixed to open Pandora’s box,” he said, adding that he believes that there is no such thing as medical marijuana.

“I’ve been doing this for 30 years and protecting this very community for that number of years, and I have yet to see anybody put one piece of evidence scientifically or medically in my face that says it is a medically approved drug,” Tucker said.

Langton said that there has not been enough research to prove that cannabis can be used medicinally safely.

“To call it medical marijuana, medical ice cream, whatever you put the word medical before, it doesn’t necessarily make it medical unless it is truly a medical product,” he said.

Instead of approving Initiative 65, the three state leaders said that medical marijuana supporters should vote for Alternative 65A, a more restrictive measure put on the ballot by the Mississippi legislature in response to Initiative 65. The proposal would only allow terminal patients to use cannabis flower, while those with other illnesses would be permitted access to cannabis oils and other formulations. Short on details, 65A would allow the legislature to enact possession limits, tax rates, and other regulations to implement the measure.


Cannabis Activists Deem Alternate Measure ‘Inadequate’
But Jamie Grantham of Mississippians for Compassionate Care, the group campaigning for Initiative 65, said that the legislature has rejected more than 20 bills that would have legalized the medicinal use of cannabis and that the alternate measure is an attempt by lawmakers “to confuse voters and deny them a fair up or down vote.”

“The language of Alternative 65A is inadequate and fails to include basic components necessary to establish a medical marijuana program that will help patients – it does not specify any framework for a functioning medical marijuana program, a timeline for implementation, a specific list of qualifying medical conditions, nor does it even provide constitutional protections for patients, caregivers, or doctors,” Grantham said on Monday.

Mississippi voters will see both Initiative 65 and Alternate 65A on the ballot when they go to the polls for the general election on November 3.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
Mississippi farmers can start applying for hemp license

The Daily Leader reports the license application period began Saturday and runs through Oct. 31 through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Industrial hemp has been promoted as a new cash crop for struggling farmers.

Hemp is a member of the cannabis plant family but contains only traces of the THC chemical compound that causes a high for marijuana users. Hemp is used for textiles, fuels, clothing, body lotion, paper, rope and chemical absorbents, among other products.

Congress paved the way for state hemp programs in the 2018 Farm Bill, which removed industrial hemp from the list of federally controlled substances.

The new Mississippi law legalized the cultivation of hemp and allowed Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Andy Gipson to create a state plan for hemp farming. But state lawmakers didn't appropriate money for a state hemp program, so Gipson said he asked the USDA to issue the licenses for Mississippi hemp growers.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
Mississippi: Legislative inaction on medical marijuana leaves some voters with tough choice



Approval of medical marijuana on Nov. 3 by Mississippi voters, based at least on polling, seems like a lead-pipe cinch.
A poll conducted by Millsaps College and Mississippi-based Chism Strategies in 2019 placed support for legalizing medical marijuana at 67% to 27%. In today’s polarized society, it’s difficult to find that level of support for many issues.
Yet some voters, who support the use of marijuana for medical purposes, might have second thoughts on approving the issue at the ballot box.
There will be two medical marijuana proposals on the ballot this November: a citizen-sponsored initiative, and an alternative approved by legislators.
Legislators placed the alternative on the ballot because they argued the citizen-sponsored initiative is too lax, allowing easy access to marijuana. Others would argue the legislators’ proposal is too restrictive and is being placed on the ballot just to confuse voters and guarantee the defeat of both.
Depending on a person’s perspective, both of those arguments have merit. But there is another argument that upon first glance might be considered academic, but in reality creates real world consequences.
If either of the proposals prevail on the Nov. 3 ballot, medical marijuana will be incorporated into the Mississippi Constitution. Never mind the legitimate argument that the Constitution should address major issues, such as our rights and freedoms, and instead focus on the fact that once something gets in the Constitution it is difficult to change or remove.
The only two ways to amend the Mississippi Constitution are by completing the difficult task of gathering the roughly 100,000 signatures of registered voters to place an initiative on the ballot, or by the Legislature approving a proposal by a two-thirds vote of both chambers and then that proposal being approved by voters.



Regardless of a person’s views on medical marijuana, science or other factors might result in a need to make changes related to the issue years from now to make it more or less accessible. If it is enshrined in the Constitution, it would be much more difficult to make those changes.
That is why, in part, that other drugs are not addressed in the Constitution. They are incorporated into general laws that can be changed through simple majority votes of both legislative chambers and by the governor’s signature.
Since June 30, there has been a proposal pending before the Mississippi Senate to pass a general bill to legalize medical marijuana. Because of the late date at which the proposal was introduced, it would take a two-thirds vote of both chambers to pass the proposal.
But if passed, it would be in general law just like other drugs, and like alcohol and tobacco products. Changes could be made to the general law much easier than changes can be made to the Constitution.
Senate Pro Tem Dean Kirby, R-Pearl, who chairs the Rules Committee where the legislation originated, said he has opted not to bring it up for a vote because a consensus has not been developed on whether it could pass.
While the Legislature can reconvene between now and Oct. 5, Kirby said, “I don’t think it is going to come up, but things change up here. I don’t know for sure, but at this point if I was betting, I would say it will not come up.”
The thought when the legislation was filed is that if a bill was passed to approve medical marijuana in general law, there would be less of a chance voters would approve one of the constitutional proposals on the Nov. 3 ballot.
Kirby said having the resolution pending before the Senate could be seen as giving voters confidence that if one of those proposals is not approved, there is a strong chance it will be taken up by the Legislature in the 2021 session.
Another perhaps more realistic view is if medical marijuana is rejected at the ballot box this November, legislators could likely be hesitant to come back behind the voters to approve such a proposal.
Democratic Rep. Robert Johnson of Natchez, the House minority leader, said he understands the arguments against placing marijuana in the Constitution and agrees with them, but to him those arguments are still not persuadable.
He said he supports the decriminalization of marijuana because “it has provided a vehicle for people to be locked up more than they should be,” and approving medical marijuana is “a first step.”
The Legislature has had years to act on legalizing medical marijuana as support has grown, “and we didn’t, so this is where we find ourselves,” Johnson said.
In effect, the choice is placing medical marijuana in the Constitution, or it very likely not being approved for years to come.
That choice could be a tough one for many voters.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
Mississippi Medical Marijuana Initiative Has ‘Strong Chance Of Passage,’ Poll Shows

An activist-led medical marijuana initiative in Mississippi “stands a strong chance of passage” during the November election, according to a newly released poll that shows widespread bipartisan support for the policy change. And voters showed a significant preference for the campaign’s measure over a more restrictive, legislature-passed alternative that will appear alongside it on the ballot.

In general, 81 percent of respondents said they favor “allowing patients with medical conditions and serious illnesses to possess and consume marijuana if their doctors recommend it,” regardless about how they feel about the specific measure.

The support is bipartisan, with 89 percent of Democrats, 76 percent of Republicans and 82 percent of independents backing the proposal.

Screen-Shot-2020-09-02-at-8.18.01-AM.png


But importantly for the Mississippians for Compassionate Care campaign, the survey also shows that their initiative is significantly more popular than a competing medical cannabis alternative that was placed on the ballot through the legislature after the activist-driven measure qualified. Advocates suspect that lawmakers pursued their more limited version in an effort to confuse voters, splitting the vote and undermining their chances of passing.

Seventy-five percent of people in the poll said they would vote for either cannabis question on the ballot.

When both measures were described to respondents and they were asked to choose between them, however, 52 percent said they’d vote for the campaign’s version while only 23 percent picked the legislature-approved initiative.

Screen-Shot-2020-09-02-at-8.18.09-AM.png


When read pros and cons arguments, support for the activists’ measure jumped 11 percentage points to 63 percent and support for the alternative declined by five percentage points.

Screen-Shot-2020-09-02-at-8.18.18-AM.png


“In summary, INITIATIVE 65 stands a strong chance of passage in November 2020 in Mississippi,” a polling memo from FM3 Research, which conducted the survey, states. “There is substantial support for medical marijuana in principle, and voters clearly distinguish between INITIATIVE 65 and Alternative 65A.”

The memo does not include information about how the two ballot measures were described to voters, however. The poll involved 602 online and telephone interviews with likely Mississippi voters from May 24-31.

Initiative 65 would allow patients with debilitating medical issues to legally obtain marijuana after getting a doctor’s recommendation. The proposal includes 22 qualifying conditions such as cancer, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder, and patients would be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana per 14-day period.

In June, lawmakers introduced yet another medical cannabis alternative resolution that would’ve similarly posed a threat to the activist-driven reform initiative. But, to advocates’ relief, the legislation didn’t advance before lawmakers went home for the summer.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
Wow... this could go under horrible and atrocious news...

A LIFE SENTENCE FOR LESS THAN TWO OUNCES OF MARIJUANA?

Because of Mississippi’s habitual offender laws, a mother of four is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for possession of less than two ounces of marijuana.

That is the story of Tameka Drummer, who was regularly cited during attempts at reigning in Mississippi’s habitual offender laws during the past legislative session. Now, there is a new Change.org petition calling for her pardon.


In 2008, Drummer was sentenced to life in prison. She was driving without a car tag in Alcorn county, she was pulled over, and the police then searched her car and they found less than two ounces of marijuana. She actually had the tag in her back seat.

But because of this, her youngest child who was just four years old at the time has grown up without a mother. She has now served 12 years of her life sentence.

Why did Drummer receive such an oppressive sentence?

Because of the state’s habitual offender laws that were written to enforce long, and even draconian, sentences on individuals who have prior convictions. The law works in different ways, but in Drummer’s case, she was previously convicted of a violent crime, a drug charge, and then, finally, the marijuana charge that landed her life without parole.

In the case of Drummer, she paid her debt to society with her past convictions, which is generally what we ask of prisoners. And each time she was convicted, the punishment got more serious while the charges against her tended to get less serious, not more serious. She went from a violent crime at 15 years old to marijuana possession, something that is legal or decriminalized in nearly half the states.

What has this meant to the state’s criminal justice system? A November 2019 analysis found that over 2,600 people have been incarcerated under these statutes. This includes 906 people serving 20 years or more in prison, and 439 people serving life sentences. There are 78 people who are serving life sentences for drug charges alone.

Taxpayers are spending about $20,000 per year to house Drummer. By the time Drummer is 70, taxpayers would have spent $700,000 on someone who is in prison for less than two ounces of marijuana. Is that a good use of taxpayer money?


Even after a series of criminal justice reforms, Mississippi continues to have the third highest incarceration rate in the world, more than all but two other states and every other industrialized country. At the same time, our state continues to fall behind economically, with a workforce participation rate that is growing at a slower pace than most other states. And more children grow up with just one parent in Mississippi than any other state in the country. This is all related.

Multiple bills that would have impacted habitual offender laws did not make it past the finish line this session and another bill that would have reformed parole for up to 2,000 prisoners was vetoed by Gov. Tate Reeves last month.

That shouldn’t be the last word. We know much needs to be done.

To help Drummer and others in a similar situation and to combat the state’s stubbornly high incarceration rate and the ever-growing cost to taxpayers, the state should continue to look for measures that reform parole and eliminate the state’s mandatory minimum habitual sentencing structure that imposes disproportionately long prison sentences on individuals, even for minor crimes.

At the end of the day, we are not safer because Drummer is in prison for the rest of her life, her children are not better off by being raised by someone other than their mother, and taxpayer money could certainly be better invested in something else.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
Mississippi Medical Marijuana Ballot Language Threatens To Confuse Voters With Two Questions

Medical marijuana is on the ballot in Mississippi. The problem for advocates, however, is that the way the ballot is constructed could make the issue seriously confusing to voters.

That’s by design, Jamie Grantham, communications director for Mississippians for Compassionate Care (MCC), told Marijuana Moment.

Shortly after the campaign officially qualified their initiative for the ballot, lawmakers approved legislation to place an alternate legalization measure before voters. Advocates say the competing ballot question is deliberately vague and could lead to a significantly more limited cannabis system if it passed over the activist-led proposal.

The result of the inclusion of an alternative is a convoluted ballot that requires voters to answer a two-step set of questions on cannabis: first, they must fill out a bubble to “vote for approval of either, or against both” measures. Then they’re prompted to “vote for one” and given the choice of the activist-driven Initiative 65 and lawmakers’ alternative measure 65A.

Immediately, there’s a logistical question. For those who voted against approving either, the use of the word “and” in the next question might lead some to think they have to select one. And if they did make a selection despite their opposition, it’s unclear whether those votes would still be counted. Alternatively, some voters who are trying to fill out their ballots quickly may skip the first question and go right to filling out the bubble for Measure 65 and then have their support discounted.

The difference in language preceding the legalization options could also cause problems. Both measures were analyzed by the state’s Legislative Budget Office, and because the activist campaign’s is more detailed, officials were able to come up with estimated costs and revenue. A big block of text goes over those numbers prior to the question itself, with costs getting more prominent billing than revenue. In the first year of implementation, the measure will cost more than it will bring in—a possible roadblock to supporting the measure for some voters—though in subsequent years there’s anticipated to be a $10.6 million annual net gain.

But for the legislature’s alternative, the analysts simply said the “cost or revenue impact associated with this initiative is undeterminable.”

Screen-Shot-2020-09-14-at-10.02.59-AM.png


While it’s possible some voters might be inclined to choose the ostensibly simpler version, MCC’s Grantham sees it differently. In a state that strongly conservative, voters care about the financial impact of reform—and she says the lack of an analysis for the alternative will demonstrate to residents that it’s an unserious proposal.

But Grantham recognizes that the ballot isn’t the straightforward “yes/no” on the activist-driven initiative that they’d hoped for.

“That’s been our concern the entire time,” she told Marijuana Moment. “That’s really the whole point with the legislature putting 65A on the ballot is that they’ve never put forth a program legislatively. They’ve blocked more than 20 proposed bills over the last few decades to do so legislatively. And then as soon as Initiative 65 qualifies, the put 65A on the ballot in order to confuse voters and dilute the vote so that neither measure meet the required amount of votes to pass.”

The ballot initiative law allowing for an alternative is “a backdoor for the legislature” to undermine the will of the voters and shut down reform they disagree with, she argued. “These are just people that don’t want medical marijuana. None of their arguments have any foundation, they really don’t.”

Matthew Schwiech, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project, told Marijuana Moment that the ballot “reflects our expectations, and it’s going to be very important for the campaign to explain the process to voters and to make the case for Initiative 65.”

He also agreed with Grantham about the fiscal language, stating that “when a voter reads the fiscal analysis, it will be fairly easy to understand. I think it’s written in a way that avoids technical jargon. And I think that it is an advantage to give clarity to voters on the fiscal impact.”

To combat any potential confusions for voters when they head to the polls, MCC is stepping up educational outreach, with activists traveling throughout the state to talk about the need for the policy change and how to navigate the ballot. They’re also sharing information across social media, including a comparison chart breaking down the differences between the versions.

ComparisonChart_HOMEPAGE-1085x1536.png


But with only weeks left until the November election, time is of the essence if the campaign hopes to make it clear to voters across the state how to fill out the jumbled ballot.

Schweich said he’s not especially concerned about potential voter drop out due to confusion over the ballot language and setup.

“Ballot drop off is impacted by a number of factors. The length of the ballot overall, the placement of the ballot question itself and the familiarity that voters have with ballot initiatives—some states have ballot initiatives often, some states, it’s less frequent. So it’s difficult to say what the drop off might be in Mississippi,” he said. “I will say that, looking at the ballot, there’s only two pages of candidates and then you get straight to the initiatives. I think the layout with the three measures is fairly clear.”

“What this really comes down to is the campaign explaining that you just have to vote for approval and then you have to vote for 65,” he said.

What the campaign has on its side, at least, is clear voter support based on recent polling. Eighty-one percent of respondents said in a recently released poll that they support medical cannabis legalization generally, and the activist-led initiative is significantly more popular than the competing alternative.

If the campaign’s measure passes, it would allow patients with debilitating medical issues to legally obtain marijuana after getting a doctor’s recommendation. The proposal includes 22 qualifying conditions such as cancer, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder, and patients would be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana per 14-day period.

In June, lawmakers introduced yet another medical cannabis alternative resolution that would’ve similarly posed a threat to the activist-driven reform initiative. But, to advocates’ relief, the legislation didn’t advance before lawmakers went home for the summer.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

Mississippi Governor Signs Bill Allowing FDA-Approved Cannabis Medications As Legalization Vote Looms


With just weeks left before Mississippi voters decide on a pair of dueling medical marijuana initiatives, Gov. Tate Reeves (R) is adding a new wrinkle into the mix.

The governor signed legislation on Thursday that amends state law to allow people to obtain marijuana-derived medications that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In announcing the action, Reeves reiterated his opposition to broader medical cannabis reform, stating that he’s “against efforts to make marijuana mainstream.”

“That said—helping people with safe treatments should not be off the table,” he said. “Just signed a bill for kids like Brady and Brianna with a rare form of epilepsy to get FDA-approved treatment.”


Reeves’s tweet about signing the legislation included photos of him with those children.

Under the bill, federally approved cannabis medications would be removed from Schedule V of Mississippi’s drug code. This comes about six months after the Drug Enforcement Administration removed the CBD-derived medication Epidiolex from the federal Controlled Substances Act.

While the modest state reform to expand access to these prescription drugs marks a positive development for patients who need them, reform advocates have been skeptical about the top officials’ intentions ahead of the election. There’s been a concerted push among legalization opponents to get voters to reject the broad medical cannabis Initiative 65, and so promoting the legislative change could theoretically detract support by creating the appearance that medical marijuana is now already available.

“I am so glad that this bill may help Brady and Brianna, but Initiative 65 for medical marijuana will help thousands of families across the state with loved ones suffering from 22 debilitating medical conditions including cancer, seizures, PTSD, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis and ALS,” Jamie Grantham, communications director for Mississippians for Compassionate Care (MCC), told Marijuana Moment. “I encourage voters to vote YES for Initiative 65 on November 3!”

The primary complication for advocates is the fact that two competing initiatives will appear alongside each other on the ballot. After Mississippians for Compassionate Care qualified their measure, the legislature approved an alternative that is viewed as more restrictive. The result is a muddled ballot that requires voters to answer a two-step series of questions—and that potential confusion threatens to jeopardize the activist-led proposal.

The Mississippi State Medical Association and American Medical Association are also contributing to the opposition, circulating a sample ballot that instructs voters on how to reject Initiative 65.

What the campaign has on its side, at least, is clear voter support based on recent polling. Eighty-one percent of respondents said in a recently released survey that they support medical cannabis legalization generally, and the activist-led initiative is significantly more popular than the competing alternative.

If the campaign’s measure passes, it would allow patients with debilitating medical issues to legally obtain marijuana after getting a doctor’s recommendation. The proposal includes 22 qualifying conditions such as cancer, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder, and patients would be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana per 14-day period.

In June, lawmakers introduced yet another medical cannabis alternative resolution that would’ve similarly posed a threat to the activist-driven reform initiative. But, to advocates’ relief, the legislation didn’t advance before lawmakers went home for the summer.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

Mississippi City Asks State Supreme Court To Invalidate Medical Marijuana Ballot Initiative


The city of Madison, Mississippi is asking the state Supreme Court to invalidate a medical marijuana legalization initiative that’s on the ballot.

While city officials say they aren’t making the appeal because they necessarily oppose the reform proposal, they’re arguing that the measure was unlawfully placed on the ballot because it violates the state Constitution’s procedural rule on citizen initiatives.

The emergency petition, filed on Monday, cites a law stipulating that “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.” But that policy went into effect when Mississippi had five congressional districts, and that’s since been reduced to four, making it mathematically impossible to adhere to.

“Petitioners’ challenge to the filing of the petition for Initiative Measure No. 65 is a challenge to form,” the filing says. “The measure could be about any topic, and its constitutional invalidity would remain. No matter what the content of the measure is, the petition signatures are insufficient under the plain language” of the Constitution until the lawmakers institute a fix.


“It is unfortunate that the Legislature’s failure means that the Constitution cannot be amended by initiative until either Section 273(3) is amended or Mississippi regains a congressional seat,” the lawsuit states.

“This action is not about the wisdom of legalizing medical marijuana. It bears repeating that the City of Madison and Mayor Hawkins Butler are not opposed to a well-regulated medical marijuana program for the truly suffering,” the city’s filing says. “What the City and the Mayor oppose is the failure of the Legislature to amend Section 273(3) and the failure of the Secretary of State to follow the plain language of the Constitution. A constitutional amendment must be enacted constitutionally.”

The filing does contain one substantive complaint about the measure, however.

“Initiative Measure No. 65 would likely allow any licensed ‘medical marijuana treatment center’ to grow marijuana within residential areas, substantially harming the City’s legitimate interest in conserving the value of property and protecting the health and safety of its citizenry,” it says.

Madison officials are asking the court to deem the placement of the legalization initiative unconstitutional and “issue whatever extraordinary writs appropriate” to nullify the vote.

“The constitutional process for amending our constitution has not been followed and the public has been misled about the content of the initiative,” Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler (R) said in a press release. “Initiative 65 gives marijuana providers greater rights than any other lawful business. Such a significant change must be lawfully adopted.”

On Tuesday, the court ordered the secretary of state’s office to file response to the petition by the close of business on Wednesday.

Under the reform measure, patients with debilitating medical issues would be allowed to legally obtain marijuana after getting a doctor’s recommendation. The proposal includes 22 qualifying conditions such as cancer, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder, and patients would be able to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana per 14-day period.

Mississippians for Compassionate Care (MCC), the campaign behind the initiative, has faced a series of obstacles before and after qualifying for the state’s November ballot.

Most recently, President Trump’s reelection campaign issued a cease and desist order against the Mississippi advocates, claiming “unauthorized and misleading representation” of the president’s position on the reform measure in one of its mailers—even though he has on multiple occasions spoken favorably on camera about medical cannabis.

But the primary complication for advocates is the fact that two competing initiatives will appear alongside each other on the ballot. After MCC qualified their measure by collecting signatures from voters, the legislature approved an alternative that is viewed as more restrictive. The result is a muddled ballot that requires voters to answer a two-step series of questions—and that potential confusion threatens to jeopardize the activist-led proposal.

The Mississippi State Medical Association and American Medical Association have also contributed to the opposition, circulating a sample ballot that instructs voters on how to reject Initiative 65.

Earlier this month, Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed legislation that amends state law to allow people to obtain marijuana-derived medications that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. He also reiterated his opposition to broader medical cannabis reform, stating that he’s “against efforts to make marijuana mainstream.”

In June, lawmakers introduced yet another medical cannabis alternative resolution that would’ve similarly posed a threat to the activist-driven reform initiative. But, to advocates’ relief, the legislation didn’t advance before lawmakers went home for the summer.

“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,” Mississippians for Compassionate Care Communications Director Jamie Grantham said. “This is simply a last-ditch effort by political and bureaucratic opponents to deny relief to patients with 22 specific debilitating medical conditions.”

This isn’t the first time that this election cycle that courts have been involved in state-level cannabis legalization ballot initiatives.

The Montana Supreme Court last week rejected a lawsuit seeking to invalidate a marijuana legalization measure that will appear on the state’s November ballot.

With weeks before the election, opponents asked the court to quash the measure, arguing that because it involves appropriating funds, it violates state statute on citizen initiatives. The court didn’t weigh in on the merits of the case; rather, it said the petitioners with the reform campaign failed to demonstrate “urgency or emergency factors” that would justify moving the case into its jurisdiction instead of going through trial and appeals courts first, which opponents said they will now do.

In neighboring Nebraska, the state Supreme Court ruled last month that a measure to legalize medical cannabis that had qualified for the November ballot could not proceed because it violated the state’s single-subject rule for ballot initiatives.

Activists there are already pursuing a simplified medical cannabis measure for 2022.

Read the city of Madison’s petition to the court on the marijuana reform initiative by following title link and scrolling to the bottom of the article.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

Mississippi Supreme Court Won’t Consider Challenge To Medical Marijuana Measure Until After Election


The Mississippi Supreme Court announced on Wednesday that it won’t weigh the merits of a last-minute legal challenge to medical marijuana ballot measures that voters will decide on next week until after Election Day.

The case, filed on Monday by the mayor of the city of Madison, alleges that state law was not properly followed to place the cannabis issue before voters.

The top state court had initially directed the secretary of state to respond to the complaint by the end of business on Wednesday. But in a new one-page order, Chief Justice Michael Randolph rescinded the earlier filing and instead asked that the official weigh in by next Friday, November 6—three days after voters will decide on the two competing medical cannabis measures that appear on their ballots.

Madison’s emergency petition cites a law stipulating that “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.” But that policy went into effect when Mississippi had five congressional districts, and that’s since been reduced to four, making it mathematically impossible to adhere to.

“Petitioners’ challenge to the filing of the petition for Initiative Measure No. 65 is a challenge to form,” the filing from Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler (R) says. “The measure could be about any topic, and its constitutional invalidity would remain. No matter what the content of the measure is, the petition signatures are insufficient under the plain language” of the Constitution until the lawmakers institute a fix.

“It is unfortunate that the Legislature’s failure means that the Constitution cannot be amended by initiative until either Section 273(3) is amended or Mississippi regains a congressional seat,” the lawsuit states, adding that the mayor isn’t necessarily against medical marijuana itself.

She wants the court to deem the placement of the legalization initiative unconstitutional and “issue whatever extraordinary writs appropriate” to nullify the vote.

Under the activist-driven reform measure, patients with debilitating medical issues would be allowed to legally obtain marijuana after getting a doctor’s recommendation. The proposal includes 22 qualifying conditions such as cancer, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder, and patients would be able to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana per 14-day period.

Mississippians for Compassionate Care (MCC), the campaign behind the initiative, has faced a series of obstacles before and after qualifying for the state’s November ballot.

Most recently, President Trump’s reelection campaign issued a cease and desist order against the Mississippi advocates, claiming “unauthorized and misleading representation” of the president’s position on the reform measure in one of its mailers—even though he has on multiple occasions spoken favorably on camera about medical cannabis.

But the primary complication for advocates is the fact that two competing initiatives will appear alongside each other on the ballot. After MCC qualified their measure by collecting signatures from voters, the legislature approved an alternative that is viewed as more restrictive. The result is a muddled ballot that requires voters to answer a two-step series of questions—and that potential confusion threatens to jeopardize the activist-led proposal.

The Mississippi State Medical Association and American Medical Association have also contributed to the opposition, circulating a sample ballot that instructs voters on how to reject Initiative 65.

Earlier this month, Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed legislation that amends state law to allow people to obtain marijuana-derived medications that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. He also reiterated his opposition to broader medical cannabis reform, stating that he’s “against efforts to make marijuana mainstream.”

In June, lawmakers introduced yet another medical cannabis alternative resolution that would’ve similarly posed a threat to the activist-driven reform initiative. But, to advocates’ relief, the legislation didn’t advance before lawmakers went home for the summer.

Mississippians for Compassionate Care Communications Director Jamie Grantham called the new lawsuit “meritless.”

“This is simply a last-ditch effort by political and bureaucratic opponents to deny relief to patients with 22 specific debilitating medical conditions,” she said.

This isn’t the first time that this election cycle that courts have been involved in state-level cannabis legalization ballot initiatives.

The Montana Supreme Court last week rejected a lawsuit seeking to invalidate a marijuana legalization measure that will appear on the state’s November ballot.

With weeks before the election, opponents asked the court to quash the measure, arguing that because it involves appropriating funds, it violates state statute on citizen initiatives. The court didn’t weigh in on the merits of the case; rather, it said the petitioners with the reform campaign failed to demonstrate “urgency or emergency factors” that would justify moving the case into its jurisdiction instead of going through trial and appeals courts first, which opponents said they will now do.

In neighboring Nebraska, the state Supreme Court ruled last month that a measure to legalize medical cannabis that had qualified for the November ballot could not proceed because it violated the state’s single-subject rule for ballot initiatives.

Activists there are already pursuing a simplified medical cannabis measure for 2022.

Read the Mississippi chief justice’s order by following title link and scrolling to the bottom of the article.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

Mississippi Governor Slams ‘Liberal’ Medical Marijuana Ballot Measure As Being Driven By ‘Stoners’


The governor of Mississippi is not happy about the medical marijuana measures on his state’s ballot this week, saying they are favored by “stoners.”

“There are good folks on all sides of the medical marijuana debate. Most non-stoners say we should be careful & deliberate,” Gov. Tate Reeves (R) tweeted. “Initiative 65 is the opposite.”

“Experts say it would mean the most liberal weed rules in the US! Pot shops everywhere—no local authority,” he said.

Under the measure’s text, municipalities can enact local zoning ordinances and regulations on medical cannabis businesses, but they can be “no more restrictive than those for a licensed retail pharmacy” or for “other comparably sized and staffed lawful commercial or industrial businesses.”

The governor said he will be “voting against both” the activist-driven measure as well as a more restrictive alternate placed on the ballot by lawmakers.


There are good folks on all sides of the medical marijuana debate. Most non-stoners say we should be careful & deliberate. Initiative 65 is the opposite. Experts say it would mean the most liberal weed rules in the US! Pot shops everywhere—no local authority. Voting against both.
— Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) November 1, 2020


Last month, Reeves signed modest legislation that amended state law to allow people to obtain marijuana-derived medications that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. At the time, he reiterated his opposition to broader medical cannabis reform, stating that he’s “against efforts to make marijuana mainstream.”

While polling has showed clear support for the activist-led measure, Mississippians for Compassionate Care has faced opposition from multiple angles.

Beyond the alternative’s inclusion and the resulting confusing, two-step ballot question voters are facing, activists also saw a last-minute legal challenge, with the mayor of the city of Madison asking the state Supreme Court to invalidate the cannabis measures because she said they were unlawfully placed before voters. The suit did not weigh in on the merits of the proposal.

But while the court initially instructed the secretary of state to promptly respond to the emergency petition, Chief Justice Michael Randolph rescinded the earlier order and instead asked that the official weigh in by November 6—three days after the election.

The Mississippi State Medical Association and American Medical Association circulated a sample ballot that instructed voters on how to reject Initiative 65.

Advocates also faced a public relations challenge when President Trump’s reelection campaign sent them a cease and desist letter, demanding that they stop using accurate quotes from the president in support of medical cannabis in mailers and campaign materials.

In June, lawmakers introduced yet another medical cannabis alternative resolution that would’ve posed an additional threat to the activist-driven reform initiative. But the legislation didn’t advance before lawmakers went home for the summer.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

Mississippi Voters Approve Robust Medical Marijuana Initiative Over Lawmakers’ Restrictive Alternate


Voters have approved an activist-led initiative to legalize medical marijuana in Mississippi, according to a projection by local outlet Y’all Politics.

The measure faced a series of unique challenges ahead of the election, principally the addition of a more restrictive alternative measure that the legislature placed on the ballot and the resulting two-step question voters faced.



Should MS Allow Medical Marijuana?​

Last updated: 11/4/2020, 6:32:38 AM



CANDIDATEVOTESPERCENT
For Either 65 or 65A81,12268.16%
Against Both 65 and 65A37,89231.84%
119,014 votes counted. 8.61% - 10.48% in

Shall MS Establish A Medical Marijuana Program?​

Last updated: 11/4/2020, 6:33:08 AM



CANDIDATEVOTESPERCENT
For Initiative No. 65 (Other)81,06176.26%
For Alternative No. 65A (Other)25,23823.74%
106,299 votes counted. 7.69% - 9.36% in

The proposal will allow patients with debilitating medical issues to legally obtain marijuana after getting a doctor’s recommendation. It includes 22 qualifying conditions such as cancer, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder, and patients would be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana per 14-day period.

“This is a huge day for Mississippi and I couldn’t be more excited, humbled or thankful,” Jamie Grantham, communications director for the pro-legalization Mississippians for Compassionate Care, said in a press release.




Activists are breathing a sigh of relief with this election outcome, as there were deep concerns that the inclusion of the less detailed alternative on the ballot would confuse voters and cause both to fail. They suspected that was the intent of the legislature, which has been resistant to cannabis reform and only pursued the alternative after the campaign’s version qualified.

“Initiative 65 puts the needs and interests of patients first. This was a grassroots effort to provide patients with access to a treatment option that patients already enjoy in 34 other states and in the District of Columbia,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “By contrast, Measure 65A was a cynical effort by lawmakers to misdirect voters. The same state lawmakers that for decades had refused to ever seriously address the issue were the ones behind 65A, and voters wisely rejected their campaign.”

The legislature’s proposal included a ban on smoking medical cannabis for patients who are not terminally ill and said that medical marijuana products must be of “suitable pharmaceutical quality,” though that was undefined.




Under the approved initiative, the Mississippi Department of Health will be responsible for developing regulations for the program by July 1, 2021. Medical cannabis patient cards will need to be issued by August 15, 2021.

“Just like we saw in the 2018 victory in Utah, Mississippi voters have proven that medical marijuana legalization is politically viable in even the most conservative states in the country,” Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said. “This victory is especially significant considering voters were able to see past the legislature’s attempt to derail Amendment 65 by proposing a confusing and unnecessary alternative initiative of their own.”

While polling showed clear support for the activist-led measure, Mississippians for Compassionate Care faced opposition from multiple angles.

Beyond the alternative’s inclusion, activists also faced a last-minute legal challenge, with the mayor of the city of Madison asking the state Supreme Court to invalidate the cannabis measures because she said they were unlawfully placed before voters. The suit did not weigh in on the merits of the proposal.

But while the court initially instructed the secretary of state to promptly respond to the emergency petition, Chief Justice Michael Randolph rescinded the earlier order and instead asked that the official weigh in by November 6—three days after the election.

The Mississippi State Medical Association and American Medical Association circulated a sample ballot that instructed voters on how to reject Initiative 65.

Last month, Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed legislation that amended state law to allow people to obtain marijuana-derived medications that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. He also reiterated his opposition to broader medical cannabis reform, stating that he’s “against efforts to make marijuana mainstream.”

Earlier this week, the governor took to Twitter to slam the medical marijuana measures, saying they are favored by “stoners” and claiming they would be “the most liberal weed rules in the US.”

Advocates also faced a public relations challenge when President Trump’s reelection campaign sent them a cease and desist letter, demanding that they stop using accurate quotes from the president in support of medical cannabis in mailers and campaign materials.

In June, lawmakers introduced yet another medical cannabis alternative resolution that would’ve posed an additional threat to the activist-driven reform initiative. But the legislation didn’t advance before lawmakers went home for the summer.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

Mississippi Officials Condemn Medical Marijuana Lawsuit In State Supreme Court Filing


In a new state Supreme Court filing, the Mississippi secretary of state and attorney general are condemning a “woefully untimely” lawsuit that seeks to overturn a medical marijuana initiative that voters approved during last week’s election. But the petitioners who brought the challenge are pushing back in their own filing.

Days before the election, the mayor of the city of Madison asked the state Supreme Court to invalidate the cannabis reform measure because, she argued, it was unlawfully placed before voters. The suit did not weigh in on the merits of the proposal itself.

While the court had initially instructed the secretary of state to promptly respond to the emergency petition, Chief Justice Michael Randolph rescinded the earlier order and instead asked that the official weigh in by November 6—three days after the election.

Madison’s challenge cites a state law stipulating that “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.” But that policy went into effect when Mississippi had five congressional districts, and that’s since been reduced to four, making it mathematically impossible to adhere to.

The response from the secretary of state’s office, signed by the state attorney general, uses strong language to push back on the challenge—especially with respect to the timing of the filing.

“Even if their interpretative argument is correct, petitioners’ action is woefully untimely. They could have asserted their so-called ‘procedural’ challenge years ago, and certainly when former-Secretary of State Hosemann officially filed Initiative Measure 65 in September 2019,” the office said. “Petitioners’ inexcusable and unreasonable delay has prejudiced the Secretary of State, the State, and the public-at-large.”

“Additionally, and not least important, common law equity principles and clear precedent of this Court prohibits petitioners from obtaining a writ of mandamus or other extraordinary writ against the Secretary of State. The Secretary’s ministerial duties of receiving and reporting the results of the November 3, 2020 election, as this Court already held nearly fifty years ago, are not subject to a writ.”

The secretary of state’s office said the court “should deny petitioners’ requested relief and dismiss their petition.”

Attorneys for the medical cannabis legalization campaign also submitted a filingintervening in the case on Monday, arguing that “issues concerning jurisdiction, timeliness, procedure, and the very remedy sought” should lead the justices to dismiss the case. In particular, they say the petitioners should have sought judicial relief at the trial court level before appealing to the state’s highest court.

“The people of Mississippi should not be stripped of a fundamental constitutional right by virtue of a tortured and novel reading of the Constitution,” the response states.

Petitioners seeking to invalidate the legalization vote claimed that the government’s position on the timeliness of their suit is redundant.

“This is an improper attempt to shift the burden of proof to Petitioners for a defense Respondents must prove,” they said. “Respondents fail to demonstrate facts to support their assertion that Petitioners knew they had a claim yet waited too long to assert it. It is not clear precisely when Respondents contend the petition should have been filed.”

“The wisdom of medical marijuana in Mississippi is not on trial here. The issue is whether the plain language of the Constitution must be followed,” they said. “The question is simple but the stakes are high. The rule of law depends on it.”

On a similar note, the Montana Supreme Court last month rejected a lawsuit seeking to invalidate a marijuana legalization measure that has since been approved by voters.

With weeks before the election, opponents asked the court to quash the measure, arguing that because it involves appropriating funds, it violates the state Constitution. The court didn’t weigh in on the merits of the case; rather, it said the petitioners with the reform campaign failed to demonstrate “urgency or emergency factors” that would justify moving the case into its jurisdiction instead of going through trial and appeals courts first, which opponents are now pursuing.

In neighboring Nebraska, the state Supreme Court ruled in September that a measure to legalize medical cannabis that had qualified for the November ballot could not proceed because it violated the state’s single-subject rule for ballot initiatives.

In Mississippi, activists faced numerous obstacles getting on the ballot and passing beyond this still-pending legal challenge.

Most glaringly, the addition of a more restrictive alternative measure that the legislature placed on the ballot and the resulting two-step question voters face represented a significant problem for activists. But in the end, voters overwhelmingly approved the activist-led proposal.

The initiative will allow patients with debilitating medical issues to legally obtain marijuana after getting a doctor’s recommendation. It includes 22 qualifying conditions such as cancer, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder, and patients would be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana per 14-day period.

Under the approved measure, the Mississippi Department of Health will be responsible for developing regulations for the program by July 1, 2021. Medical cannabis patient cards will need to be issued by August 15, 2021.

The Mississippi State Medical Association and American Medical Association circulated a sample ballot that instructed voters on how to reject Initiative 65.

Last month, Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed legislation that amended state law to allow people to obtain marijuana-derived medications that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, stating that he’s “against efforts to make marijuana mainstream.”

Earlier this month, the governor took to Twitter to slam the medical marijuana measures, saying they are favored by “stoners” and claiming they would be “the most liberal weed rules in the US.”

Advocates also faced a public relations challenge when President Trump’s reelection campaign sent them a cease and desist letter, demanding that they stop using accurate quotes from the president in support of medical cannabis in mailers and campaign materials.

In June, lawmakers introduced yet another medical cannabis alternative resolution that would’ve posed an additional threat to the activist-driven reform initiative. But the legislation didn’t advance before lawmakers went home for the summer.

Read the secretary of state office’s response to the medical marijuana legalization challenge by following title link and scrolling to the bottom of the article.
 

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