The state of Mississippi’s recently passed medical cannabis initiative, Initiative 65, is being challenged by a lawsuit that seeks to block the program’s progress, or even halt it completely.
The Mississippi Department of Health has joined the lawsuit, which was originally started by the city of Madison and the city’s Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler. The brief that was filed on December 14 specifies that the Department of Health feels they should not be responsible for coming up with the new, complex regulations for cannabis and creating a database for the new industry in under seven months, which is the time the state has been given to get their medical cannabis program up and running. It also expressed issues with the fact that the initiative would amend the constitution.
Those against Initiative 65 also claim that the new law was advertised as a single initiative, but is actually 14 separate ones that deal with things like taxing, changing criminal codes, zoning for where cannabis is allowed to be sold or cultivated, etc. Additionally, they claim that it creates a problem when it comes to keeping the powers separate, since the executive branch will have free reign to institute how funds are used without enough legislative oversight.
If the lawsuit passes, there’s a chance that the Mississippi Supreme Court could “throw out” Initiative 65, which would mean that there will be no medical cannabis industry in the state for the time being. However, those who have advocated for change and pushed through this initiative are fighting back.
Attorneys from the secretary of state’s office issued a response saying the city of Madison had years to file this challenge and did not, and many are also pointing to the fact that this measure did pass by a 73 percent voter margin in the election in November 2020.