Advocates in Nebraska Still Need Signatures for Medical Cannabis Initiative

Nebraskan advocates express urgency for collecting signatures in order for their initiative to be included in this year’s ballot.

The deadline for ballot initiatives to submit valid signatures is rapidly approaching, and the advocacy group Nebraska for Medical Marijuana (NMM) is requesting help from supporters to obtain the signatures for their initiative to pass.

NMM campaign manager Crista Eggers recently sent out an email asking for help on June 6. 

“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,” Eggers said.

Eggers has spent numerous years advocating for medical cannabis legalization. Her son has suffered from epileptic seizures since he was two years old, and she saw the relief and benefits that medical cannabis offered to him in comparison to pharmaceutical medicines. “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.”

By July 3, NMM’s initiative must be submitted with signatures from 7% of voters. Additionally, the signatures must be collected from voters in at least 38 counties throughout the state (which has a total of 93 counties).  “We made the counties our main focus because they require a great deal of time and resources that cannot wait until the last minute,” Eggers said. “We have the counties, but we have an urgent need to collect bulk signatures.” At least 87,000 signatures would need to be verified by the Nebraska Secretary of State’s Office before being approved to appear on the ballot.

NMM recently shared on social media that one of its volunteers is watching their child suffer from a condition that could be treated with medical cannabis. “There’s a parent sitting in the hospital right now, exhausted and desperate for help for their suffering child who lay in the bed before them,” the post stated. “With nothing left to try, they cling onto the hope that medical cannabis may someday bring relief to this hell they are living. With only 29 days until signature turn in, and thousands of signatures to still be collected, this parent, and patients across this state are begging for help. Be a part of something today, that may change someone’s life tomorrow. #getinvolved #cannabisismedicine”.

This year’s ballot initiative marks the third time that advocates have worked to get medical cannabis legalized. The first was in 2020, which did not make it onto the ballot because the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that it violated the state’s single-subject rule. Another attempt was made in 2022, but it also didn’t make it onto the ballot because NMM didn’t collect signatures from voters in at least 38 counties.

Medical cannabis isn’t the only hot-button topic aiming for ballot consideration includes an amendment that would eliminate property tax, income tax, sales tax, and inheritance tax, a law that would require employers to provide paid sick leave for workers, and three separate amendments to either permit or ban abortions.

Nebraska is one of few states that haven’t legalized medical cannabis yet, including Idaho, Kansas, Wyoming, North Carolina and South Carolina.

This year’s voting opportunities include four primary cannabis-related ballots. In Idaho, which doesn’t allow any form of cannabis use, a group called Kind Idaho was working to collect signatures for the Idaho Medical Marijuana Initiative. Although it will not appear on this year’s ballot, it would have allowed patients with chronic conditions or who are terminally ill to use cannabis to treat their symptoms. It would also have included protections for those patients so they wouldn’t have to worry about prosecution for cannabis use.

In South Dakota, Measure 29 (or The South Dakota Marijuana Legalization Initiative) is officially on the ballot, which would legalize adult-use cannabis consumption, possession, and distribution. Technically both medical and recreational cannabis were legalized by voters back in 2020 but in 2021 the recreational initiative was found to be unconstitutional. Voters also rejected another attempt to legalize adult-use cannabis in 2022.

Meanwhile, there has been strong support for adult-use cannabis legalization in Florida. According to a recent poll, 66% of Florida voters plan to support the initiative. By party, 76% of Democrats support the initiative, alongside 71% of Independents and 57% of Republicans. The likelihood of legalization is strong, considering that a constitutional amendment requires 60% or more of votes on the ballot in order to pass. “Floridians want and deserve the same right to consume recreational marijuana that more than half the country already enjoys,” said Smart & Safe Florida campaign manager Morgan Hill. “This poll reflects what we at Smart & Safe Florida know to be true: legalizing recreational adult-use marijuana is good for Floridians’ health, safety, and individual freedom.”

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