The secretary of state has approved the ballot for the Nov. 3 general election and it’s a safe bet that people are going to be confused by the section concerning medical marijuana. They may have questions about the initiative on statewide elective office as well.
A copy of the sample ballot that includes the initiatives appears at the end of this story.
First, the ballot must include the projected cost for the marijuana option, should the measure pass, as computed by the Legislative Budget Office. Briefly, the cost the first year is estimated to be a little over $11 million and revenue to be $13 million. For the subsequent year and following, cost is estimated at $15.4 million with revenue of $26 million (with these figures broken down some as well).
Other than adding considerable verbiage, the financial analysis is not the confusing part.
There are two initiatives to choose between (or to choose neither).
Initiative 65 says, “Should Mississippi allow qualified patients with debilitating medical conditions, as certified by Mississippi licensed physicians, to use medical marijuana?”
Initiative 65A says, “Shall Mississippi establish a program to allow the medical use of marijuana products by qualified persons with debilitating medical conditions?”
The second choice is somewhat more vague, obviously. (see BallotPedia link below for more detail on differences in the two initiatives.)
There are two separate voting steps concerning the initiatives.
In the first step, you can vote in favor or either 65 or 65A, or you can vote against both 65 and 65A, but not vote against one only.
In the second step, regardless of how you voted in the first part (and whether you voted; you don’t have to), you vote for 65 or 65A in the event there are sufficient ‘yes” votes in the first part and even if you voted against both in the first part.
Statewide elective office constitutional change
The initiative concerning statewide elective office is slightly less confusing.
Currently, to win a statewide elective office such as governor, you must win a majority of votes in a majority of state congressional districts. The law dates back to Reconstruction and means that a candidate can receive a majority of popular votes but not win enough districts, reminiscent of the electoral college. In that case, the decision goes to the House of Representatives who can choose whomever they want as winner, not necessarily even a candidate.
A “yes” vote for this initiative means that in the future, whoever wins the most votes overall wins. If one does not receive a majority in a primary, there is a runoff.
State flag initiative
The state flag initiative will also appear on the ballot but that decision will be simple: either vote to accept or reject the flag design that appears on the ballot.
Of course there are various elective offices to be on the ballot, ranging from president on down, and most people have likely already decided who they will vote for or will have decided well before Nov. 3.
For more details on Marijuana vote, including details of differences in 65 and 65A: https://ballotpedia.org/Mississippi_Initiative_65_and_Alternative_65A,_Medical_Marijuana_Amendment_(2020)General election, medical marijuana, New Albany, Northeast Mississippi, state flag, state offie, Union County