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Nebraska Medical Marijuana Ballot Campaign Meets Key Signature Requirement

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Nebraska activists say they’ve met a key signature gathering requirement to place a pair of medical marijuana legalization initiatives on the state’s November ballot.

In an email blast to supporters on Tuesday, Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana (NMM) said they’ve now collected valid petitions from at least five percent of registered voters in 38 of the state’s 93 counties—one of the main requirements to qualify the cannabis measures for ballot placement.

“But we are NOT DONE! We still have a big hill to climb to ensure that we have a buffer of signatures so that we are 100% certain we’re on the November ballot,” Crista Eggers, campaign manager of NMM, said.

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.

“We know from our two previous petition drives that we can’t just settle with the lowest possible number of signatures prior to turning in our petitions to the Nebraska Secretary of State,” Eggers said. “So we’re taking advantage of every opportunity to keep qualifying counties!”

The includes signature gathering at polling locations on Tuesday to take advantage of primary election day. The campaign says it will be circulating petitions through 8pm local time—and they’re also soliciting donations to sustain the push.

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.”

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 in 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 Brian Shamblen.

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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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