The 2020 Initiative Measure #65 was voted in by the people of the State of Mississippi. The legislation would have allowed qualified patients with certain medical conditions and proof from a doctor to use medical marijuana.
However, this month, Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler of Madison, Mississippi filed a legal challenge against the initiative, claiming it was mathematically impossible for one fifth of the signatures to be evenly spread across just four districts.
Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mayor Butlers challenge.
A Legal Challenge from Butler, and Fallout
During the proceedings, Mississippi Supreme Court acknowledged a strong majority of voters were in favor of Initiative Measure #65, as 766,000 of the 1.3 million voters voted in favor of medicinal marijuana being legalized. However, due to a fault in conditions and change of adherence to procedures within the districts, the challenge was valid.
This legislative roller coaster ride did not come without its consequences.
Protests-termed “We Are the 74” referring to the 74% of people who voted in favor of medicinal marijuana, are beginning near the state’s capital for special sessions to be called to reenact the lost initiative. Mississippi hemp business owner DeAndrea Delaney addressed that the medical marijuana initiative was uniting people where they were traditionally divided. One thing was apparent at Tuesday’s protests: Mississippi’s people were excited for a new form of treatment for their ailments.
Signs reading “Man-made medication stole my quality of life” and “The people spoke and the elected stole our voice” flooded social media. Stories of conditions without treatment, medications with horrid side effects, and the light that medical marijuana was bringing to the people are being shared on forums and public platforms.
A Districting Issue, or Marijuana Bias?
Advocate of Measure 65, Angie Calhoun, isn’t convinced about the reason for the legal challenge. “For anybody to say that this was brought forth because of any other reason I think we certainly know that this is about medical marijuana, not about the five or four congressional districts,” she said.
That sentiment has been echoed by others, who see the action by Butler and the Supreme Court to run against voters interests. “I am sick about this and shocked,” said, Jamie Grantham, who worked with the Medical Marijuana 2020 campaign. “This ruling is a gross violation for voters and is quite literally a violent ruling against patients who are suffering.”
Let’s take a moment to address the differences and logistics in regards to recreational and medicinal marijuana. This is important to understand in states where both are lega.
For starters, medical marijuana can be the entire plant or just an extraction from the plant, and in many popularized strains, it is higher in its CBD content than THC, producing little to no high. Medical marijuana is used to treat a variety of conditions and ailments, including multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and chemotherapy side effects. Medical marijuana, like any other prescription, is taken with the supervision of a physician.
On the other hand, we have recreational marijuana which is accessible to anyone over the age of 21 in a legal state. Recreational is generally geared towards a higher THC content to specifically achieve psychoactive effects. It is considered to be less regulated and overseen than its medicinal counterpart, without medical requirements or prescriptions needed.
It can’t help but feel that the challenge by Butler was in a large way fueled by a fear of marijuana, and without regard to nuances between medical and recreational systems, and who those systems serve.
While we are unsure of the direction the state of Mississippi is headed in reference to Initiative Measure #65, it is always nice to see a state’s people standing up for what they believe and have voted for.