Ridgeland marijuana petition falls short

Ridgeland marijuana petition falls short


RIDGELAND — One of the nine confirmed forgeries on a pro-marijuana petition here was Attorney General Lynn Fitch’s signature, officials said.

City Clerk Paula Tierce, in a certified document present to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen, said that a petition for a referendum on medical marijuana ran 372 pages and had 3,060 total signatures. 

The signatures were checked against voter roles. She said their review was able to verify 734 signatures. Another 385 were disqualified and the remaining 1,941 were not registered voters of Ridgeland or Madison County, Tierce said.

The signatures were certified on Sept. 14 and presented to the mayor and board board during their Sept. 19 work session.

Mayor Gene F. McGee said a total of nine signatures had been confirmed as forgeries, the most prominent of which was the signature of Attorney General Lynn Fitch. 

Ward 2 Alderman Chuck Gautier asked if any laws were broken.

McGee said officials would investiage the matter.

The certification was unanimously ackknowdged on the consent agenda, although no further action was taken becuase the number of confirmed signatures was well below the established threshold to legalize medical marijuana in the city.

State law requires the petition to have 1,500 signatures or 20% of the eligible voters of the concerned area, whichever is less.

The petition was submitted by Sterling Kidd, an attorney for the Healthcare Freedom Network, who represented the petitioners at Tuesday’s regular city meeting. 

Kidd eventually asked that the petition be withdrawn. McGee said the city would not withdraw the petition as the submitted signatures had already been reviewed but that the petitioner was more than welcome to try again.

City officials in March unanimously approved a resolution opting out of the cultivation, processing, sale and/or distribution of medical cannabis and cannabis products within the geographical limits of the city before a May deadline.

McGee said at the time that he has read the law carefully and believes the city loses nothing by opting out. He said that the city set an example by making the decision well before the May 3 deadline and gives city officials time to observe what happens elsewhere.

He said then the city is free to opt back in if they feel that is a good direction.

McGee said that opting out also gives the city time to develop any zoning laws that would be necessary if they allow medical marijuana dispencaries in town.

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