Hosemann: “Senate will be ready” if governor calls special session

Politics

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – After the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned the medical marijuana initiative on Friday, Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann said the State Senate will be ready if Gov. Tate Reeves decides to call a Special Session.

Six justices ruled that the medical marijuana initiative is void because the state’s initiative process is outdated. Three justices dissented.

The justices heard arguments in April 2021 for a lawsuit that challenged the state initiative process and seeks to block development of a medical marijuana program. The lawsuit was filed by Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler. It argued the state’s initiative process is outdated and Initiative 65 should not have been on the ballot.

Voters in November 2020 overwhelmingly approved Initiative 65.

During the legislative session that ended in April, the Senate tried to create rules for a state medical marijuana program, but the House defeated the effort. Supporters of Initiative 65 balked at the Senate’s proposal, saying they saw it as an attempt to usurp the will of the voters.

“Citizen-driven ballot initiatives are an important part of policy-making, and I support reenacting the ballot initiative process. I also support a medical marijuana program, as evidenced by the Senate twice passing back-stop legislation which did not survive in the House. We are in the process of talking to Senators about the Supreme Court ruling as it relates to both issues and how to proceed,” said Hosemann. “If the Governor chooses to call the Legislature back into Special Session, the Senate will be ready. Because Special Sessions are expensive, my preference is to approach this situation in an organized fashion so when we do return we can minimize costs to taxpayers.”

“The legislature needs to immediately enact a law that is identical to the one passed by a majority of the electorate last November providing immediate relief for suffering Mississippi patients who were relying upon legal, medical marijuana. It is immoral and unfair for our legislature to keep chronically ill patients in limbo because of political games and procrastination,” said Hinds County Democratic Executive Committee (HCDEC) Chair Jacqueline Amos. “They must also amend the ballot initiative law to restore that process in in a timely manner.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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