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Nebraska Senators Will Work To Put Recreational Marijuana On The Ballot In 2022

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Nebraska state senators and activists are in the process of drafting an initiative to legalize marijuana for adult use that they hope will appear on the state’s 2022 ballot.

The campaign, which is already collecting signatures for a separate medical cannabis legalization measure, announced on Saturday that it will release language for the recreational proposal in January.

There are few details about what the marijuana program would look like at this stage, but because of activists’ experience running up against a single-subject rule for ballot initiatives in Nebraska, it stands to reason that the language of the measure could be fairly simple and then it would be up to legislators to set regulations for the legal market.

Nebraskans for Medical Cannabis—headed by state Sens. Adam Morfeld (D) and Anna Wishart (D)—qualified a measure to legalize medical marijuana for this year’s ballot. But the state Supreme Court shut it down following a single-subject challenge.

Activists then filed a one-sentence medical cannabis measure for 2022 that simply states, “Persons in the State of Nebraska shall have the right to cannabis in all its forms for medical purposes.”

The campaign said in an e-mail plast to supporters that is motivated to pursue broader reform based on voter approval of adult-use legalization in neighboring South Dakota last month, as well as the U.S. House of Representatives vote in favor of a federal cannabis descheduling bill last week.

“This is an issue where current state law is far behind most Nebraskans’ values. We’re ready to end the failed war on drugs,” the ACLU of Nebraska said.

If activists do collect enough signatures to qualify either the medical or recreational cannabis measure, they will still likely face a challenge at the polls, as midterms generally see lower turnout as compared to presidential election years.

That said, it’s possible that the continuing momentum for reform via the ballot could spur lawmakers to take up at least medical cannabis legislation in the meantime. Wishart has said she will again file a bill on the topic.

Reform advocates in a number of states will be pursuing marijuana reform through the ballot in 2022.

Under this year’s blocked Nebraska medical cannabis initiative, physicians would have been able to recommend cannabis to patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions, and those patients would then have been allowed to possess, purchase and “discreetly” cultivate marijuana for personal use.

For what it’s worth, Nebraska’s attorney general said in an opinion last year that efforts to legalize medical marijuana in the state would be preempted by federal law and “would be, therefore, unconstitutional.”

House-Passed Marijuana Legalization Bill Would Add $13.7B To Federal Budget, Congressional Analysts Say

Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

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