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Mississippi Votes Celebrates Passage of Medical Marijuana Bill; Continues Call for Restoration of Ballot Initiative Process

Mississippi Votes Team
Mississippi VotesFebruary 07, 2022

JACKSON, Miss. – On Wednesday, February 2nd, 2021, Gov. Tate Reeves signed the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act of 2022 into law. In November 2020, Mississippians headed to the polls and voiced their opinions on this issue. Ultimately, Mississippi's medical marijuana initiative was approved by an overwhelming majority, garnering more than 68 percent of the vote. They made their voices heard, and now, 15 months later, Mississippi’s political leadership has decided to listen. Mississippi Votes is celebrating this legislative achievement as a victory for voters and democracy.

“This has taken far too long, but I am thankful we are finally able to put this debate to rest,” said Hannah Williams, Mississippi Votes Voting Rights Project Coordinator. “We must now continue to ensure Mississippi’s ballot initiative process is restored and voters are provided once again with the power to enact change.”

In May 2021, the Mississippi Supreme Court struck down Mississippi’s voter-approved medical marijuana initiative, along with eliminating the process followed to place the initiative on the ballot in the first place. The issue for this being that Mississippi had five congressional districts at the time lawmakers wrote the former ballot initiative process into law in 1992, but ended up with four after the 2000 census led to redrawn lines. Lawmakers never amended language referring to the initiative process, and the power to change that wording lies with Mississippi’s Legislature, which has failed to take action in response thus far.

A simple solution to this predicament would be to restore the ballot initiative process to its original form and swapping “five” with “four,” but legislation currently being considered by lawmakers does no such thing. HC 39, introduced by Speaker Philip Gunn and Rep. Fred Shanks, and already passed through committee, would permit vast government overreach and make the process inaccessible to most Mississippians. Additionally, the resolution takes away Mississippians' existing right to propose Constitutional Amendments while keeping that power reserved only for legislators themselves.

“HC 39 does not honor the will of the people. It provides more power to politicians and fails at reinstating the ballot initiative process Mississippians previously had access to, which is what an overwhelming majority of Mississippi voters want to see enacted,” said Arekia Bennett, Executive Director of Mississippi Votes.

Mississippi Votes urges Mississippians to contact their legislators and voice their concerns regarding this legislation. Ballot measures are the people’s power and are vital to Mississippians’ freedom to have a say in the laws that govern us.

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PRESS CONTACT: Seth Nieman | 601-341-6234 | seth@msvotes.org

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