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Consider This: Time for a Special Session

Published: May. 20, 2021 at 6:20 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Last week, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled the grassroots ballot initiative process in the state is not legal. The initiative process required petitioners to collect signatures in the state’s five congressional districts.

There is just one problem.

Mississippi lost one of its districts 20 years ago and now has only four congressional districts. The finding by the Supreme Court that the process is flawed, effectively killed the medical marijuana program that was overwhelming approved by voters last year.

When Mississippians approved medical marijuana, some legislators said voters must have been confused by the ballot options and did not do their research.

Many legislators are the ones who actually seem ignorant and out of touch. The support for medical marijuana has been building for years.

The state legislature just failed to act, which led to the Initiative 65 movement. With such broad support for a marijuana program, they now need to act and implement what is without a doubt the will of the people of Mississippi.

Governor Reeves needs to call a special session to implement a medical marijuana program.

Secondly, the state legislature, as part of a special session or in the regular 2022 session, needs to fix the now illegal initiative process. Mississippians approved the program in 1992 and it is unfair to take it away.

It’s important for Mississippians to have a mechanism to enact change when the legislature doesn’t act. But instead of just moving the signature requirements from five to four congressional districts, which could change if we add or lose districts in the future, a complete overhaul might be necessary to fix the ballot initiative process.

In fact, we agree with House Speaker Philip Gunn that the initiative process should change statute, not the constitution. The legislature needs to finalize the proposed revisions to the ballot initiative soon so Mississippians can vote on it in the next major election in November 2022.

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