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Voters, lawmakers wonder what’s next after Miss. Supreme Court squashes Initiative 65

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 6:48 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Jeanne Tate is the chairperson of the Mississippi Sickle Cell Foundation. She also suffers from the disease and admits it is painful.

She was shocked and saddened to learn the efforts to legalize medical marijuana in the state went up in smoke Friday. Tate says it would have helped her and others in her situation.

“Initiative 65, with the medical marijuana; it would’ve been a great asset to the patients here in the state of Mississippi because it would’ve given us another avenue of pain relief,” said Tate.

The Mississippi Supreme Court overturned Initiative 65. The court cited a flaw in the state’s constitution that references five congressional districts, but Mississippi went down to four after the 2000 census - making it outdated.

Saucier resident Donnie Collins has taken his frustrations to social media to start a new group called “We are the 74,” which references the high percentage of Mississippians who voted for Initiative 65.

He wants the governor to call a special session, so lawmakers can handle this matter

“The people of Mississippi are suffering because of the negligence, so what I would personally like to see is for them to make right what we voted for,” he stated.

State representative De’Keither Stamps agrees a special session should be called sooner than later.

“First and foremost, Mississippi needs an initiative process where people can address the government and handle issues that they feel are important to them,” he said. “We must reestablish the public confidence that they have in government by delivering a medical marijuana program.”

House Speaker Philip Gunn supports a special session as well.

“We 100 percent believe in the right of the people to use the initiative process to express their views on public policy. If the legislature does not act on an issue that the people of Mississippi want, then the people need a mechanism to change the law.”

As the debate over medical marijuana’s pros and cons continues, Collins sees more issues sparking from the Mississippi Supreme Court’s decision.

“I don’t want to make this just about Initiative 65, this encompasses Medicaid expansion, eminent domain, Voter ID, these are the initiatives are going to be challenged. I have already gotten word that there are potential lawsuits coming out.”

Governor Tate Reeves told WLBT late Monday that he is not ruling out a special session.

The group “We are the 74” plans to hold a peaceful protest outside the Supreme Court of Mississippi building Tuesday, May 25, at 9 a.m.

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