Nebraska Medical Cannabis Campaigns Fail to Reach Ballot

The campaigns to legalize medical cannabis in Nebraska weren’t able to collect enough signatures to qualify for November election ballots, but state Sen. Jen Day (D) said she would introduce legalization legislation in the next session.

Full story after the jump.

The Nebraska campaigns seeking to put a medical cannabis legalization question on midterm election ballots failed to collect enough signatures, Secretary of State Robert Evnen announced on Monday. However, state Sen. Jen Day (D) told Iowa Capital Dispatch on Tuesday that she will introduce a bill during the next legislative session to enact the reforms. 

In a press release, Evnen’s office said the ballot initiatives “failed to meet the Nebraska Constitutional signature requirements” which require a total of 7% of registered voters as of July 7, 2022, and 5% of registered voters in at least 38 of Nebraska’s 93 counties.  

The number of valid signatures required statewide is 86,776, Evnen’s office said. 

The Medical Cannabis Patient Protections Initiative submitted 77,843 valid signatures, reaching the 5% threshold in 26 counties, while the Medical Cannabis Regulation initiative submitted 77,119 valid signatures, meeting the 5% threshold in 27 counties, Evnen’s office said. 

Day told the Capital Dispatch that she, along with advocates, “will exhaust every measure possible to get Nebraskans the medical freedom they deserve and want.” Medical cannabis legalization advocates have also pledged to launch another petition drive following the failure of this year’s campaign.   

A survey published in May by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln estimated that in 2020 and 2021, 83% of Nebraskans supported medical cannabis legalization in the state and that in 2020, 40% of state residents supported adult-use reforms and support for those reforms increased to 46% last year.   

Medical cannabis legalization is opposed by Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts who, in December, appeared in an anti-cannabis ad saying cannabis “is not medicine.” The comments in the ad were less inflammatory than a statement he made in March 2021 when he said legalizing medical cannabis would “kill your kids” and it was a “dangerous drug.” 

Nebraska’s 2023 session begins January 4. 

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