Conservative lawmakers are asking the courts to block the will of the people on pro-legalization ballot initiatives
Ken Newburger felt like he’d been blindsided.
He knew a legal challenge had been mounted against the medical cannabis ballot initiative he’d worked on last year in Mississippi. He knew the state’s Supreme Court had taken up the case. But the argument against Initiative 65 was so nonsensical that Newburger had zero doubt the court would rule to uphold the measure. He was wrong: The court overturned it, and with it the will of the 74 percent of Mississippi voters who approved it last fall.
“It was not how I felt the decision would go,” Newburger says of the May 14th ruling. “I didn’t even conceive of it because after the overwhelming support that we had last year, I didn’t think the court would throw out an election.”
Newburger was working as the director of field outreach for Initiative 65 last year when Mary Hawkins Butler, the Republican mayor of Madison, Mississippi, filed a lawsuit arguing the measure was illegal. Hawkins said she opposed Initiative 65, which would have legalized the prescription of cannabis for a variety of conditions, because she didn’t want “pot shops” in Madison. Her lawsuit hinged on the state constitution’s requirement that ballot initiatives be filed with signatures from five congressional districts. It would have been pretty difficult for the Initiative 65 campaign to gather these signatures, though, as the state has only had four such districts since the 2000 Census. [Read More @ Rolling Stone]