Jim Bowen

Nebraska MMJ Advocates May Delay Legalization Efforts Until 2018

Medical cannabis advocates in Nebraska have announced they will not follow through on plans for petitioning to get medical marijuana legalization on the ballot this November. Instead, they plan to make a push for the 2018 election season, according to a Lincoln Journal Star report.

“We just can’t count on the Legislature,” said Shelley Gillen, whose son Will suffers from epilepsy and could be helped by medicinal cannabis. “We’ve been doing this since Will was 11. He’s now 14. So we’ve been through it three legislative sessions.”

The Nebraska legislature struck down a bill this session that, if passed, would have established an extremely restrictive (though potentially life-saving) medical marijuana program. The bill, LB643, would have legalized cannabis in pill, oil, or liquid forms for patients suffering from very specific conditions and who have received a doctor’s recommendation.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Tommy Garrett (R-Bellevue), said he was heartbroken by its defeat because he had convinced activists earlier in the year to abandon plans for a petition drive. “I really thought we had a great chance of getting [the bill] passed,” Garrett said.

Now, according to Garrett, a petition drive to get medical marijuana legalization on this November’s ballot would cost somewhere between $700,000 and $1,000,000 — that’s too much money, with not enough time in advance.

Garrett will face re-election this year. If he returns to the legislature, he plans to reintroduce the bill next session. “We’re going to keep fighting the fight,” he said.

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