Nebraska Activists Tout Medical Marijuana Legalization Petition Progress In 16 Counties And Step Up Push For Support Ahead Of 2024 - Read of Green
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Nebraska Activists Tout Medical Marijuana Legalization Petition Progress In 16 Counties And Step Up Push For Support Ahead Of 2024

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Nebraska activists say they’ve collected enough signatures for a pair of 2024 medical marijuana legalization initiatives from 16 counties, with plans to close the gap on four more by the end of the year as they make a final push for the ballot.

Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana (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 last year and intervention by the state Supreme Court in the prior attempt. But advocates got an early start on signature gathering this round and are already making significant gains, the campaign said in a email blasts last week.

They’re also asking supporters to mail in any signed petitions they currently have so they have a better sense of where to prioritize resources in the new year.

“Whether you have 1 signature or 100 signatures, please send them now,” the campaign said. “This is crucial for us to allocate our resources wisely next year.”

“Since relaunching our campaign, I’m inspired and hopeful to see Nebraskans of all ages, regions, and political affiliations coming together to support legalizing medical marijuana,” Crista Eggers, campaign manager of NMM, said.

In an email blast on Friday, the campaign said that it secured the latest two counties in just one day, which it said was thanks to volunteers who “stayed until they got the job done.”

“Door knocking, house calls, and stopping by a few local establishments, combined with the force and drive of two amazing grassroots collectors, was a force to be reckoned with,” it said.

In addition to collecting signatures from at least seven percent of registered voters in the state, the campaign also needs valid petitions from at least five percent of voters in a minimum of 38 of the state’s 93 counties. Supporters are being encouraged to donate to the campaign so it can ensure funding to finish the job.

“When you make a contribution to Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, you’re helping us print petitions, support our canvassers, and reach Nebraskans everywhere,” NMM said.

Volunteers have been filling out petitions since 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.”

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 in February, 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.

Source: Marijuana Moment

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