Some Mississippi communities still working on pushback to medical marijuana opt outs

Some Mississippi communities still working on pushback to medical marijuana opt outs
Some Mississippi communities still working on pushback to medical marijuana opt outs
Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 8:27 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - We’re looking at the status of local efforts to opt back in on medical marijuana after some leaders chose to block the businesses.

The law spells out the timelines for opting in or out of medical marijuana. Cities and counties had 90 days to opt-out. They can opt back in at any time. But the people who live there have another way to have their voices heard.

This map from the Department of Revenue has all the cities and counties that have opted out of allowing dispensaries highlighted in red. And there’s a referendum process to flip those back to green.

“It’s not just signatures, it’s, you’ve got to have certified active voters,” described Jason McDonald. “So like in the case of Lincoln County, we had to get either 42 or 4,500 to get 1,500 certified.”

Jason McDonald started Stop the Opt-in Lincoln County. They are the first and only area in the state to successfully opt back in via special election. He notes that signature gathering is only the first hurdle.

“It’s not as easy as people think,” noted McDonald. “And, and even though it overwhelmingly passed here in 2020, it you know, it was kind of a squeaker and this special election,”

In Ridgeland, signatures were recently submitted to the city. But no election was set because not enough of those signatures were certified, many of the 3,000 plus were found to not be registered within the city. Local Opt-In wasn’t tied to that effort but they’ve helped in other cities. We asked director Jonathan Brown what happens next for cities like Ridgeland where the signature count goes sideways.

“This is not a one-and-done thing,” described Local Opt-In Director Jonathan Brown. “Citizens always have the option to submit more signatures, until the election is held in the case that the election is held and it’s rejected, then there’s a two-year moratorium. But even after that, they can come back into it again. So it’s really written in favor of the citizens having their voice heard.”

Brown has found that some people are confused when they start their signature collection.

“As we talk to patients and supporters, you know, their number one question to us is, wait, why are we having to vote on this again?” Brown said. “Didn’t I already sign this petition two years ago?”

Other notable updates and signatures have now been submitted in Gluckstadt. The City Clerk’s office is still working to verify those. And in Lauderdale County, organizers got the required number of registered voters and it will be on their ballot in November.

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