196,000 Signatures for Medical Marijuana in Nebraska
August 26, 2020
August 26, 2020
Contributing Writer: Alyssa Goebel
Unfortunate news with the latest update on September 10:
Medical marijuana will not be on the ballot in Nebraska in 2020, after all, because of a legal challenge that went before the Nebraska Supreme Court. The campaign will continue efforts via the Nebraska Legislature in January 2021.
Update, August 26, 2020: The Nebraska Secretary of State certified that the medical marijuana initiative will be on the ballot in November!
Just one final step remains to confirm that medical marijuana will be on the ballot in Nebraska in November. Campaign organizers submitted 196,000 signatures for certification and expect to hear final confirmation from the Secretary of State any day.
With official qualification, the Nebraska Medical Marijuana Initiative will appear on the ballot as an initiated constitutional amendment on November 3, 2020. With approval from voters, the ballot measure would add Article XIX to the Nebraska Constitution.
Synopsis of Article XIX
This initiated constitutional amendment would allow Nebraska citizens to use, possess, purchase, and produce marijuana to alleviate severe medical conditions, with the recommendation of a licensed physician. This ballot measure would also include minors (persons under the age of 18) who are recommended by a licensed physician and who have the permission of a parent or a legal guardian, to use medical marijuana to improve the child’s medical state. Parents of these minors would be permitted to possess, purchase, and produce marijuana on their child’s behalf.
Nebraska citizens with recommendations to use medical marijuana will be allowed to cultivate their cannabis, but will also have the option to purchase cannabis from private entities. The individual entities must apply for the appropriate licenses, but the details are vague at this time. The initiative says, “Private entities and agents operating on the entities’ behalf in the State of Nebraska may grow, cultivate, process, possess, transport, sell, test, or transfer possession of cannabis, cannabis products, and cannabis-related equipment for sale or delivery to an individual authorized to use cannabis.” These entities will be subjected to prelicensure and reasonable regulation, once operational.
Two things to know about Article XIX, the initiative does not allow for public consumption, nor does it allow for impaired driving under the influence of medical cannabis. The initiative would allow employers to restrict an employee from working while impaired by medical cannabis.
This ballot measure would be the backbone to the state being able to develop laws, rules, and regulations to govern a medical marijuana program, and hopefully, an adult-use program in the future.
The Initiative as of Now
As of July 2, Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, have submitted more signatures to qualify the constitutional amendment than required, despite challenges and interruptions from the pandemic.
Petitioners came to a halt in March 2020, due to COVID-19, but were able to resume in time to meet the deadline. While campaign staff and volunteers lost about three months of collection time, a final count of 196,000 signatures were delivered to the Nebraska Secretary of State — well over the 121,669 required signatures. While final qualification is pending, the final tally is indicative of strong support and a real need for a medical marijuan program in Nebraska.
Though these signatures have yet to be deemed valid by the state, it shows there is a real need for this medical marijuana program.
State Senator Anna Wishart, a co-chair of the Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana campaign committee, said, “Families with loved ones suffering from conditions like epilepsy, PTSD, and cancer have fought for years to make medical cannabis safely accessible. Today represents a huge step forward for thousands of Nebraskans who deserve compassion. We are confident that we’ve met the requirements for ballot qualification, and after seeing the outpouring of support for our petition, we’re even more confident that Nebraska’s voters will approve this initiative in November.”
The deadline for signatures was July 2nd, 2020, and now Nebraskans are waiting to see the result and if this initiative will appear on the ballot in November 2020.
We’ll be eagerly watching for the final announcement. In the meantime, Nebraskans can make sure they’re registered to vote!