Marijuana reform advocates in Nebraska are considering new approaches to loosen the state’s cannabis laws after a medical marijuana legalization proposal for the upcoming ballot failed to garner the required number of signatures to qualify.
Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana (NMM) campaigned for two medical cannabis ballot initiatives but faced financial difficulties that curbed their signature-gathering activities. As the secretary of state’s office announced recently, this meant neither proposal will make it onto this November’s ballot.
NMM campaign coordinator said the organization is now weighing up the possibility of pushing for full marijuana legalization at the 2024 ballot as a way to attract more funding.
“There is nothing off the table about how we get this done,” said Eggers, whose son has epilepsy. “I’m a parent, and I will do whatever it takes, and go to the ends of the Earth, to help my child.”
“We’re going to regroup, we’re going to hurt and we’re going to cry and we’re going to be angry, but then we’re going to take the anger we feel today and turn it into action,” she added. “There’s no giving up.”
In the meantime, a state senator announced her intention to convene a special legislative session to push medical cannabis reform over the line. This is unlikely to gain traction in the legislature, but Sen. Jen Day (D) said she will also submit a bill for the 2023 session in January that would legalize marijuana for medical purposes.
“We will exhaust every measure possible to get Nebraskans the medical freedom they deserve and want,” Day said to KNOP News.
NMM handed in more than 90,000 signatures for each proposal, several thousand more than 86.766 valid signatures required to qualify. However, the signature verification process revealed NMM was about 10,000 signatures short for both measures. On top of this, NMM failed to meet the threshold of including five percent of registered voters from at least 38 of Nebraska’s 93 counties.
One of the proposals would have compelled lawmakers to pass legislation that would protect physicians from criminal sanctions for recommending cannabis as a medical treatment. The other would require lawmakers to approve new legislation that would allow licensed business to supply cannabis for medical purposes.
NMM had previously said the reason the proposals were so narrowly focused is down to the invalidated 2020 ballot attempt, when the state Supreme Court overruled a successful medical cannabis proposal on the basis that it violated Nebraska’s single-subject rule for ballot initiatives.
Last year, a state senator filed a bill to put a recreational cannabis legalization question on the 2022 ballot but it failed to clear the Republican-controlled legislature.