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Nebraska Activists Say They Need 30,000 More Signatures Over Next Month To Put Medical Marijuana Initiatives For November Ballot

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Nebraska activists are putting out an urgent call for voters to sign petitions to place a pair of medical marijuana legalization initiatives on the state’s November ballot, with just under four weeks left to collect about 30,000 more signatures to qualify each measure.

Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana (NMM) said in an email blast on Thursday that while they prioritized meeting a requirement to gather signatures from at least five percent of voters in a minimum of 38 counties across the state, they now need supporters to rally to hit the overall statewide signature threshold.

“We made the counties our main focus because they require a great deal of time and resources that cannot wait until the last minute,” Crista Eggers, NMM’s campaign manager, said. “We have the counties, but we have an urgent need to collect bulk signatures.”

“There is no doubt we are farther ahead than in past petition drives, but still have a tremendous push to gather over 30,000 signatures on each petition over the next 27 days to assure we are successful,” she said.

The campaign needs to collect a total of 87,000 valid signatures for each of the two measures by July 3 in order to make the ballot.

NMM has worked to put medical cannabis on the ballot for two prior election cycles, only to come short due to setbacks such as the loss of critical funding in the last election cycle and intervention by the state Supreme Court in the prior attempt.

“There is no doubt Nebraskans want to see this on the ballot, so we need them to step up and help make that happen,” Eggers said. “My personal ask, not as a campaign manager, but as a mother, is that people would react as if their child’s life depends on it and go sign; because for many of us, our child’s life really does depend on it.”

The first of the two current ballot initiatives from the campaign would require lawmakers to codify protections for doctors who recommend cannabis and patients who purchase and possess it. The patient-focused measure says that its aim is to “enact a statute that makes penalties inapplicable under state and local law for the use, possession, and acquisition of limited quantities of cannabis for medical purposes by a qualified patient with a written recommendation from a health care practitioner, and for a caregiver to assist a qualified patient in these activities.”

The other initiative would create a new a Nebraska Medical Cannabis Commission to provide “necessary registration and regulation of persons that possess, manufacture, distribute, deliver, and dispense cannabis for medical purposes.”

The campaign is urging voters to find locations to sign the petitions, which can be done in Omaha and Lincoln at Wine, Beer and Spirits, for example.

While the campaign has faced setbacks in past election cycles, advocates got an early start on signature gathering this round. In addition to meeting the county-based threshold, activists must generally collect signatures from at least seven percent of registered voters statewide to qualify for the ballot.

Volunteers have been filling out petitions since last July, about two months after turning in the pair of complementary legalization initiatives to the secretary of state’s office.

Gov. Jim Pillen (R) has already voiced opposition to the reform effort, saying last September that legalization “poses demonstrated harms to our children,” and that medical cannabis should only be accessible if its approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Eggers told Marijuana Moment at the time that the governor’s argument is a “cop out,” and she says the campaign will let voters decide for themselves.

“We can’t stop until we get that done. That’s where we’re at, and that’s how our campaign feels,” she said. “We just keep showing up. And the reason we have to do that is because there is no option.”


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One of NMM’s earlier campaigns gathered enough signatures for ballot placement in 2020, but the measure was invalidated by the state Supreme Court following a single-subject challenge. Supporters then came up short on signatures for revised petitions in 2022 due in large part to the loss of funding after one of their key donors died in a plane crash.

Nebraska lawmakers, including campaign co-chair Sen. Anna Wishart (D), have also attempted to enact the reform legislatively, but cannabis bills have consistently stalled out in the conservative legislature.

Wishart’s medical cannabis bill received a hearing in the unicameral Judiciary Committee last year, but it did not advance. She attributed the inaction to changes in committee membership. An earlier version of the measure ultimately stalled out in the GOP-controlled legislature amid a filibuster that supporters could not overcome.

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Photo courtesy of Max Pixel.

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Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based managing editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

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