Wednesday, March 11, 2020

House Votes For Alternative Medical Marijuana Initiative Proposal

A ballot initiative to allow the use of Medical Marijuana will be on the November 2020 ballot.

According to the Secretary of State's website, the initiative can be summarized as follows:

Proposed Ballot Title:
Should Mississippi allow qualified patients with debilitating medical conditions, as certified by Mississippi licensed physicians, to use medical marijuana?

Proposed Ballot Summary:
Initiative Measure No. 65 proposes to amend the Mississippi Constitution to allow qualified patients with debilitating medical conditions, as certified by Mississippi licensed physicians, to use medical marijuana. This amendment would allow medical marijuana to be provided only by licensed treatment centers. The Mississippi State Department of Health would regulate and enforce the provisions of this amendment.

Getting an initiative on the ballot in Mississippi is very difficult and basically requires thousands of certified signatures of voters evenly distributed across the state's congressional districts.  Mississippians for Compassionate Care, the group behind Medical Marijuana in Mississippi, met these stringent requirements and the noted ballot initiative will be on 2020 ballot.

Despite meeting the stringent hurdles to actually get an initiative on the ballot, promotors must still contend with the Legislature's right to propose alternatives to any ballot initiative.  This Legislative alternative was previously employed in the Initiative 42 debate a few years ago.  Notably, both initiatives 42 and 42A (the Legislative alternative) failed according to

The Mississippi House of Representatives passed an alternative to the Medical Marijuana ballot initiative. 

Reservoir area Representatives voted as follows:
A yes vote favors the alternative, a no vote would allow the ballot initiative to proceed without an alternative.  The alternative ballot measure passed the House 72-49 and now goes to the Senate. 

Assuming that the alternative passes the Senate and makes it on the ballot, the ballot will likely pose two questions to voters (following the initiative 42 template).  The first question will ask voters to vote for approval of either initiative (the original/alternative) or against both.  The second question would present the original initiative and the Legislature's alternative.  Only if the first question receives a majority, then the option receiving the most votes would become binding.  Clear as Mississippi mud!
Here is a video of an exchange between Joel Bomgar (Madison) a proponent of the original initiative and Trey Lamar, the sponsor of the legislative alternative measure.
 Bomgar has props for final speech on the bill. #msleg

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