The Mississippi Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, struck down the medical Cannabis law passed last November by voters. About 70 percent of Mississippi voters approved the measure.
This is the first time a medical marijuana law approved at the ballot box has been overturned by the courts.
The Magnolia State will now remain in a handful of conservative states without a medical marijuana program. The decision also limits other citizen-led efforts to put issues on the statewide ballot, reports Insurance Journal.
Behind the ruling is the fact that initiatives need signatures from five congressional districts to get on the ballot, but because of Mississippi’s stagnant population, the state only has four districts.
Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler filed a lawsuit days before the election, contending that the signature-gathering requirement is mathematically impossible with four congressional districts. She opposed Initiative 65 because it limits a city’s ability to regulate the location of medical marijuana businesses.
Twenty-two medical conditions could qualify patients for medical marijuana. Authorized conditions included cancer, epilepsy or seizures, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Crohn’s disease, HIV, and more.
Patients could have, under Initiative 65, possessed up to 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana at one time. Initiative 65, as written, taxed marijuana sales at the state’s sales tax rate, which was 7% as of 2020.
Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Matthew Schweich called it a “cruel and tragic day for sick and suffering people in Mississippi.”
“As a result, tens of thousands of Mississippians with debilitating health conditions will be denied safe, legal access to something that can alleviate their pain and improve their quality of life,” Schweich said.