Hawkins v. Watson
Hawkins v. Watson (Mississippi Supreme Court, May 14, 2021): In a 6-3 decision, the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned a voter initiative legalizing medical cannabis in the state. The initiative, which amended the state constitution, passed with 68% of the vote in November 2020, but was challenged by the Mayor of Madison, Mississippi. The court overturned the measure on state constitutional grounds. Section 273 of the Mississippi Constitution requires that each congressional district provide no more than 20% of the signatures of support for a constitutional amendment. However, the state lost a congressional district in 2002 and currently has only 4 congressional districts. Consequently, the initiative was invalid because the constitutional restriction, in combination with the loss of a district, invalidated the required apportionment of signatures. Only the legislature could address this flaw in the voter initiative process. The dissent argued that this decision ignores the will of over 800,000 voters and may invalidate 2 decades of constitutional amendments. Read the decision here.