After a failed first try, the Senate passed a legislative alternative to the medical marijuana program voters approved in November.

A last gasp effort has been rejected to convince the Mississippi Supreme Court to reconsider its landmark decision which struck down the medical marijuana initiative approved by voters in November and the entire ballot initiative process.

The Supreme Court rejected the pleas by the sponsors of an early voting initiative and a recreational marijuana initiative to reconsider its 6-3 decision issued in late May. In a two page decision released Thursday, Southern District Justice Dawn Beam, writing for the Court, said parties that wanted to intervene in the lawsuit were given a time period in November to make the request. And since neither party did, “the present motion for leave to intervene is not well take and should be denied.”

And with the denial of that motion, the efforts of the groups to request a rehearing are moot, Beam wrote.

This effectively ends any possibility that the decision to strike down medical marijuana and the initiative process will be reversed.

The Supreme Court took its action in response to a lawsuit filed by Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler and the city of Madison in opposition to the medical marijuana ballot initiative that was approved by voters in November. The lawsuit contended, and the court agreed in the 6-3 decision, that the medical marijuana initiative and the entire ballot initiative process were invalid because the Constitution requires the signatures to place proposal on the ballot be gathered equally from five congressional districts. The state now has four U.S. House seats after the state lost a House seat as a result of the 2000 Census.

After the ruling in late May, Secretary of State Michael Watson who was a defendant in the lawsuit, opted not to ask for a rehearing. Watson said at the time he did not believe there was any chance the Supreme Court would reverse the ruling.

Instead, he said he was focusing on working with the Legislature to approve a medical marijuana law and to fix the initiative process so that it could resume. He has expressed optimism that the ballot initiative process can been revived in a manner so that the initiatives that were in the process when the Supreme Court decision was handed down could be restarted without their sponsors having to start over with the lengthy process.

Legislative leaders and Gov. Tate Reeves have not ruled out a special session to address the court ruling.

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Bobby Harrison, Mississippi Today’s senior capitol reporter, covers politics, government and the Mississippi State Legislature. He also writes a weekly news analysis which is co-published in newspapers statewide. A native of Laurel, Bobby joined our team June 2018 after working for the North Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo since 1984. He is president of the Mississippi Capitol Press Corps Association and works with the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute to organize press luncheons. Bobby has a bachelor's in American Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi and has received multiple awards from the Mississippi Press Association, including the Bill Minor Best Investigative/In-depth Reporting and Best Commentary Column.