EDITORIAL/Legalizing marijuana

EDITORIAL/Legalizing marijuana


Enshrining legalized marijuana in the state Constitution is not what most Mississippians thought they were voting for in November, but that’s what Initiative 65 would have done.

The state Supreme Court’s ruling this month overturning the marijuana initiative was the right decision on process.

State lawmakers and others are still urging Gov. Tate Reeves to call a special session to pass a clean medical marijuana bill and that’s a good idea.

Enacting a good medical marijuana law is the right thing, but we do caution rushing into anything. 

Louisiana, for example, seems to have  a good medical marijuana law that doesn’t allow folks to grow their own weed and smoke it, as Initiative 65 would have.

The state’s high court did not circumvent the will of the people or reverse the outcome of the November initiative that passed statewide with 58% of those voting. The court overturned the process.

To be sure, Initiative 65 approval drops to about 40% when taking into account the number of registered voters statewide.

There is a clear distinction that some voters are still missing — or the pot lobby refuses to see because it’s about millions and millions in profits.

A focus on better public policy rather than a rush to align with big money special interest groups is prudent.

The merits of medical marijuana were not before the Court as noted several times during oral arguments.

The issue before the Court was the initiative and referendum process and whether Initiative 65 should have been on the ballot based on the way that the process is currently written in the state Constitution.

The ruling is actually very straightforward. The Court simply ruled that the process was not constitutional because 1) Mississippi lost a Congressional district in 2000 2) the signature requirement for the petition part of the process is invalid because it is based on a calculation with five Congressional districts instead of four and 3) The Legislature failed to update the language in the process to account for that change on numerous occasions when bills were introduced to fix the process.

Secretary of State Michael Watson suggests that the words “one-fifth (1/5)” be changed to “its pro-rata share” in Sec. 273 (3) so as to maintain the population spread intended to gauge public interest throughout the state for a specific issue. That’s a good idea. 

But the Legislature should first give Mississippians a good medical marijuana bill and then fix the initiative process because the people deserve and want an initiative process. 

The entire initiative process of amending the Constitution should be examined.

Do we really need to be amending the constitution over policy issues? We don’t think so.

The Legislature should establish a medical marijuana program by state statute sooner than later that is safe, effective and medically sound.

The Senate passed a medical marijuana bill last session but it failed in the House.

Combined with the guidelines the state Department of Health has been writing preparing for legalized marijuana in Initiative 65, we feel certain the details of actual medical marijuana can be worked out and the will of the people satisfied in a special session.

Voters should know the process before continuing to misplace blame. 

The Supreme Court was following the law as written. The Initiative 65 decision was not a ruling based on the merits of “medical marijuana.” The ruling was about process.

Initiative 65 basically legalized marijuana because there is hardly anything medical about growing your own stash of weed. 

Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler did all Mississippians a favor challenging the initiative on process.

The Legislature should now pass a medical marijuana bill that is safe, effective and medically sound.

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