The Mississippi Supreme Court decided to halt a legal challenge against a medical marijuana initiative already on the ballot. The court will not consider the challenge until after the elections, only a few days away, are over.
According to an order filed on Wednesday by Chief Justice Mike Randolph, the Secretary of State Michael Watson has up to November 6 to react to the challenge filed on Tuesday by Mary Hawkins Butler, Madison mayor.
However, Watson’s deadline is not due until three days after the elections.
Butler believes that the initiative does not comply with the state constitution regarding the number of signatures required from Mississippi’s congressional districts. The former secretary of state, Delbert Hosemann, commented that the initiative had qualified for the ballot months ago.
Mississippians for Compassionate Care who back the initiative dismissed Butler’s arguments as groundless and an attempt at undermining the initiative. They went on to say their petition process complied with the prerequisites of the constitution.
In Mississippi, an initiative process demands that petitioners collect registered voter signatures while maintaining no more than one-fifth of signatures per congressional district.
Butler’s point of contention comes from the argument that there has to be an excess in signatures for the initiative from at least one of the state’s four congressional districts.
However, supporters of the initiative argue they gathered more than 220,000 signatures, with the secretary of state, Michael Watson validating over 105,000 signatures officially putting the initiative on the ballot.
According to a recent poll, about 80 percent of residents favor the initiative. Still, the conservative state has had its share of opposition on marijuana legalization.
The Mississippi ballot has two initiatives, initiative 65 and 65A. The former will allow certified physicians to prescribe medical marijuana for debilitating conditions. The latter does not specify certification by physicians.