A group that is aiming to legalize medical cannabis in Nebraska submitted ballot petitions just under the wire on Thursday, ending a campaign that has been beset by tragedy and financial hurdles.
Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana said that it had turned in thousands of signatures to the secretary of state in the hopes of getting the medical cannabis proposal on the Cornhusker State ballot this November.
The group will now await word to see if the measure will qualify for the ballot.
“It’s official, we turned in 184,000+ signatures to put medical cannabis on the ballot,” said state Sen. Anna Wishart, a Democratic lawmaker who co-sponsored Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana. “We will know in the coming months if it was enough to qualify. Every signature represents a person who had the guts to go out and ask and a person who had the heart to sign. Thank you Nebraska.”
Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana has dealt with a series of setbacks throughout its petition drive. In March, the group’s outlook appeared dire after one of its top donors died in a plane crash, and another donor had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
“I’d say devastating is an understatement,” said Crista Eggers, who also led the group’s petition campaign. “We’re pleading with you to help.”
“If what we needed was grit, and drive, and determination, we have that,” Eggers said. “Our campaign would be done and over if that’s what we needed. But unfortunately, the one thing our campaign doesn’t have – and has to have – is money.”
Eggers’ motivations are personal: her son, Colton, has epilepsy and is unable to receive medical cannabis treatment in Nebraska.
“We’ve received so much encouragement from individuals all across the state, who support the many patients like our son Colton, who desperately need access to this medicine. No matter what your political background is, we should all agree that criminalizing a medicine that has the potential to alleviate suffering, is both cruel and inhumane,” Eggers said in announcing the group’s petition campaign last fall. “The current policy doesn’t reflect our family values here in Nebraska, and we’re going to change that. We need everyone who believes in compassion for suffering individuals like my son to be part of this movement and help us win in 2022.”
On Thursday, Eggers marveled at the group’s resilience.
“These were people that cared about this issue and they continued stepping up you know one day after another and when things got tough, right, they kept going,” Eggers said, as quoted by local television station KETV.
“There was no choice to give up, right. Because of all of you. Because of all the people, the stories, who were relying on us to get this done,” Eggers added.
Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana turned in the signatures at the 11th hour, befitting the tumult that defined its petition drive. KETV reported that the group “used every second they could before they had to turn in their signed petitions in Lincoln,” with people “still signing the petition outside the Secretary of State’s Office less than an hour before the deadline.”
In a post to its Facebook page on Thursday afternoon, the group urged both individuals who wished to sign the petition and notaries to come to the secretary of state’s office.
Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana mounted a previous effort to get a proposal on the state ballot in 2020, but the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled it ineligible.
“As for what happens tomorrow, we’ll face that tomorrow,” Eggers said on Thursday, as quoted by KETV.