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Law Nebraska

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
Nebraska Medical Marijuana Initiative Has Enough Signatures For Ballot, But Legal Challenge Filed

Activists behind a campaign to legalize medical marijuana in Nebraska announced on Wednesday that the secretary of state’s office has informed them they collected enough signatures to qualify their initiative for the November ballot. Meanwhile, a law firm representing unnamed state residents filed a last-minute legal challenge attempting to prevent voters from having a chance to decide on the measure.

Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana said in an email blast that while the secretary of state has not formally certified the initiative, office staff informed them that they submitted enough valid signatures to make the cut.

There’s “no doubt that we met the constitutional requirements for signature collection,” Sens. Anna Wishart (D) and Adam Morfeld (D), cochairs of the campaign, said.

“This is an unbelievable achievement, and we’re ecstatic,” they said. “As much as we want to celebrate, there’s no time to waste. Nebraskans will begin casting their ballots next month, and we have to quickly ramp up our efforts to fight back against a very well-funded opposition campaign.”

“Just like we succeeded in the signature drive, our campaign can’t win at the ballot box without your help,” the email states. “Nebraskans have made their voices clear that they want a chance to vote on medical marijuana in November—now let’s win.”

In a press release, Wishart emphasized that the campaign “collected 123,000 signatures in one month—during a pandemic.”

“We couldn’t have done that without the support of tens of thousands of Nebraskans across the state,” she said. “This is overwhelming evidence that voters want medical marijuana on the ballot and legal for patients with serious and debilitating health conditions.”

Despite the signature qualification, however, a law firm sent a letter to the secretary of state on Wednesday, alleging that the legalization measure violates the state’s “single-subject” rule that precludes ballot initiatives that cover more than one issue, and arguing that the proposal “cases confusion” and “creates doubt about what will be authorized after the election.”

Three gambling-related measure were bumped from the ballot by the state this week over a single-subject dispute.



“On the same day we were told that we had enough signatures and qualified Medical Marijuana to be on the ballot we received a letter challenging the constitutionality of our initiative,” Morfeld wrote on Twitter. “Our language is drafted based on prior Supreme Court precedent and is constitutional.”

The secretary of state is aiming to make a determination about the legal challenge by Thursday, a Nebraska Public Radio reporter said.



Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana submitted about 182,000 signatures last month, well beyond the 121,669 required to qualify for the ballot.

“It’s absolutely incredible what the volunteers and this campaign pulled off. The state received signatures from nearly 200,000 Nebraskans, including parents of children with epilepsy, cancer patients, and veterans with debilitating pain—people whose lives literally depend on this being on the ballot and passing,” Jared Moffat, campaigns coordinator for the Marijuana Policy Project, told Marijuana Moment.

“The notion that one person could decide, based on a nonsensical legal argument, that this should not be on the ballot is simply unacceptable,” he said. “We will fight tooth and nail to ensure the people of Nebraska have a chance to vote on this amendment.”

Under the proposal, physicians could recommend cannabis to patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions, and those patients would then be allowed to possess, purchase and “discreetly” cultivate marijuana for personal use.

Wishart and other legislators have tried for years to pass medical cannabis bills in the legislature only to be blocked by opposition from leadership. But with help from the Marijuana Policy Project and other advocacy groups, they are now putting the issue directly to voters.

While the campaign suspended signature gathering amid the COVID-19 outbreak, it relaunched its efforts in May with new social distancing safety protocols in place.

Nebraska’s attorney general said in an opinion last year that efforts to legalize medical marijuana legislatively in the state would be preempted by federal law and “would be, therefore, unconstitutional.”
 

CarolKing

Always in search of the perfect vaporizer
At a news conference Monday, Gov. Pete Ricketts spoke against medical marijuana, claiming that, in states where its been legalized, people "show up to work stoned" and have a greater risk of accidents.
"This is not a benign thing, this is a dangerous thing," he said.

Nebraska's secretary of state announced that despite a recent legal challenge, he believes the medical marijuana initiative has enough signatures and stands up to a recent legal challenge. If the supreme court agrees, it will be on the ballot in November.

Web results
Governor of Nebraska Publicly Condemns Medical Cannabis During Press Conference


6 hours ago · Should Nebraska voters approve a measure legalizing medical marijuana this year, be prepared for workers in the Cornhusker State to clock in before they've come down. That was the warning issued ...
 
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Baron23

Well-Known Member
Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana Celebrate Ballot Success


Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana is celebrating after receiving confirmation its amendment will appear on the November ballot.
Back in July we reported Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana delivered more than 182,000 petition signatures supporting a ballot initiative to enable patients access to medical marijuana as recommended by their physician or nurse practitioner. It also lays the foundation for a regulated market for producers and dispensaries in the state. The wording of the petition can be found here.
The result was quite a feat given the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic that impacted on their efforts. What it demonstrates is not only the group’s passion on the issue, but also that of Nebraskans.



That passion has paid off – Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana announced last week it had received word they had made it over the line.
“This is an unbelievable achievement, and we’re ecstatic,” said the group in a Facebook post. “But there’s no time to waste. Nebraskans will begin casting their ballots next month, and we have to quickly ramp up our efforts to fight back against a very well-funded opposition campaign.”
The original announcement stated there was no doubt the constitutional requirements had been met for signature collection, but the ballot hadn’t been certified at that point and NMM were still waiting on final word from Secretary of State Bob Evnen. That came the following day.
“Just heard from the SOS, Secretary Evnen will not withhold the medical marijuana issue from the ballot. Way to go Nebraska.”
The Secretary reportedly also said he had “no doubt” that his decision will be challenged in court and mentioned the decision in favor of allowing it on the ballot was a close call.
The first court challenge was filed on Friday local time.
Nebraska law allows citizens to bring forward constitutional amendments for approval on the ballot if enough signatures can be gathered – at least 10% of the electorate. To qualify for the 2020 ballot, approximately 122,000 signatures were needed by July 2.
According to the Marijuana Policy Project, not only is there no medical marijuana program in the state currently, there are also no other allowances for patients in Nebraska.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
Nebraska Supreme Court Hears Case Challenging Medical Marijuana Ballot Initiative

The Nebraska Supreme Court on Thursday heard oral arguments in a case that will decide whether a medical marijuana legalization initiative will appear on the November ballot.

While the measure already qualified after activists turned in nearly 200,000 signatures in July, a legal challenge was filed against the secretary of state’s office late last month, with Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner arguing that the proposal violates the state’s single-subject rule for ballot initiatives.

The state rejected that argument, but the local police official opted to take the case to court. Thursday’s hearing saw legal teams for the sheriff and the measure’s supporters—including state Sens. Adam Morfeld (D) and Anna Wishart (D)—make their respective cases about the appropriateness of including the reform proposal on the ballot.

The attorney for the plaintiff contended that the various provisions in the measure on patient access, retail sale and distribution constitute multiple issues that a single ballot initiative is not legally able to cover. But the defendant’s counsel made the case that this initiative’s scope is consistent with others that have been presented to voters and the single-subject matter is not at issue.

“The Nebraska Constitution provides the power of initiative is the first power reserved by the people. The power is precious,” the attorney representing the cannabis campaign said in his closing remarks. “It is one which the courts are zealous to preserve the fullest tenable measure, spirit as well as letter.”

“Here over 192,000 Nebraskans petitioned to exercise their right to vote on the medical marijuana initiative,” he said. “This court should zealously protect the power of initiative, recall its alternative writ and allow the voters to decide this major issue on November 3.”

A decision will need to be made in the case by September 11, which is the deadline to certify items for the November ballot.

If the measure is cleared for the ballot and voters approve it, physicians could recommend cannabis to patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions, and those patients would then be allowed to possess, purchase and “discreetly” cultivate marijuana for personal use.

While the campaign suspended signature gathering amid the COVID-19 outbreak, it relaunched its efforts in May with new social distancing safety protocols in place.

Nebraska’s attorney general said in an opinion last year that efforts to legalize medical marijuana legislatively in the state would be preempted by federal law and “would be, therefore, unconstitutional.”
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
Nebraska: Supreme Court Invalidates Proposed 2020 Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative

Nebraska voters will not have the opportunity to decide this November on a statewide ballot measure to legalize and regulate medical marijuana.

The Nebraska Supreme Court issued an opinion this afternoon finding that the initiative’s language violated the state’s single subject rule requirement. The 5 to 2 ruling followed a last-minute legal challenge from a local sheriff that came about only after the Secretary of State had determined that proponents had met qualifications to place the issue on the November ballot. The Secretary of State had previously rejected the petitioner’s legal argument, but that decision was appealed to the Supreme Court.

The court concluded, “As proposed, the NMCCA contains more than one subject–by our count, it contains at least eight subjects. In addition to enshrining in our constitution a right of certain persons to produce and medicinally use cannabis under subsections (1) and (2), in subsections (3) and (4), the NMCCA would enshrine a right and immunity for entities to grow and sell cannabis; and in subsections (6), (7), and (8), it would regulate the role of cannabis in at least six areas of public life. These secondary purposes are not naturally and necessarily connected to the NMCCA’s primary purpose. As such, they constitute logrolling… The decision of the Secretary of State is reversed. We issue a writ of mandamus directing him to withhold the NMCCA from the November 2020 general election ballot.”

Initiative proponents, Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, immediately published a statement online stating, “[T]his fight is not over” and that “nothing changes the fact that an overwhelming majority of Nebraskans stand with the patients and families who deserve compassion and safe access to medical cannabis.”

Commenting on the court’s decision, NORML State Policies Coordinator Carly Wolf said, “It’s extremely disappointing that Nebraskans with debilitating conditions will continue to be denied access to a therapeutic treatment that could provide significant benefits. An overwhelming majority of Nebraskans support this policy change, which I hope will propel state lawmakers to take action next year and approve legislation to reform Nebraska’s outdated and unjust marijuana policies.”

The campaign successfully gathered and submitted over 182,000 signatures earlier this summer.

The initiative would have amended “the Nebraska Constitution to provide the right to use, possess, access, and safely produce cannabis, and cannabis products and materials, for serious medical conditions as recommended by a physician or nurse practitioner.”

Nebraska is one of only three US states that remains on par with the federal government regarding the continued prohibition and criminalization of marijuana.

Medical marijuana legalization initiatives will be voted on in Mississippi and South Dakota on Election Day. Adult-use ballot initiatives will be voted on in New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota.

Read the full text of the Supreme Court’s decision.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
Nebraska Medical Marijuana Activists Will Pursue 2022 Ballot Measure After Court Blocks This Year’s Effort

Nebraska medical marijuana advocates aren’t going down without a fight. Following a state Supreme Court ruling on Thursday that removed their initiative from the November ballot, the campaign announced on Friday that it will be creating a new committee to roll out a revised citizen petition for 2022.

The court determined that the measure violated Nebraska’s single-subject rule that limits the scope of what can be placed on the ballot before voters. The campaign strongly disputed the decision but said it will take lessons from the case to put together a new initiative that satisfies the court’s interpretation of state law by being “simple and broad” and has “no limitations.”

That means that while the measure that voters were prevented from deciding on this year had a carefully crafted system of licensing and regulations, the next version could allow the supply chain for medical cannabis to roll out with virtually no limitations on caregivers and patients—a situation that the prohibitionist activists who succeed this week will probably like even less.

“The Court has taken an already confusing and muddled single subject test and left Nebraska with no clear standard or test,” Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana said in a blog post. “We are left with an inference that if you do propose an initiative, it better be simple and broad and have no limitations, even if they are natural and necessary to the single subject. So that is exactly what we will do.”



All of this comes after the reform campaign submitted nearly 200,000 signatures in July to qualify the measure. But last month, Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner filed a challenge against the secretary of state’s office, making the single-subject objection.

While the state rejected that argument, the local police official took it up in court. Lawyers for both the sheriff and supporters of the measure—including state Sens. Adam Morfeld (D) and Anna Wishart (D)—made their respective arguments during a hearing last week.

The attorney for the plaintiff contended that the various provisions in the measure on patient access, retail sale and distribution constitute multiple issues that a single ballot initiative is not legally able to cover. But the defendants’ counsel made the case that this initiative’s scope is consistent with others that have been presented to voters and the single-subject matter is not at issue.

The court released its final opinion Thursday, determining that the proposal does in fact violate the single-subject rule and cannot proceed to the ballot.

“With their ruling, the Court has made less clear an already confusing single subject legal standard,” Morfeld said in a press release. “We are left with the conclusion that if you do propose an initiative, it must be simple and broad and have no limitations, even if they are natural and necessary to the single subject. We will take this all into account when looking into drafting new language.”



The senator also speculated in a tweet on Friday that anti-cannabis Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) was behind the legal challenge.

“Lawsuits to strike down initiatives like medical marijuana that require highly paid attorneys do not just simply pop up out of nowhere,” he said. “It is coordinated and funded by the guy in the Northeast corner of the capitol. I have seen it played out time after time.”

“Here’s the bottom line: You cannot have a right to medical marijuana for medical purposes if you do not have access to a supply,” the campaign said. “There is a natural and necessary connection and thus a singular purpose, and this does not violate the single subject rule.”

The committee that’s being formed to push for a 2022 petition plans to partner with other advocacy groups to encourage candidates and elected officials to adopt a pro-reform position. They will also be creating a scorecard tracking where lawmakers stand on the policy change.

“If anyone thinks we are going to pack our bags and go home, they’re wrong and don’t understand why we fight so hard to legalize medical cannabis,” Wishart, a state senator and cochair of the campaign, said. “Our home is Nebraska, and we are here to stay and advocate for parents and families who are watching their loved ones needlessly suffer. We will not rest until Nebraska enacts a compassionate medical cannabis law that provides relief to the people who desperately need it.”

Wishart has previously introduced cannabis reform legislation, but it’s stalled in the legislature. As the committee pursues another ballot initiative, it’s possible that activists and the lawmakers will continue the policy change push legislatively in the interim.

While the activists suspended signature gathering amid the COVID-19 outbreak, they relaunched its efforts in May with new social distancing safety protocols in place. They overcame those obstacles, but the court challenge ended the fight to legalize medical cannabis in the state for the year.

Nebraska’s attorney general said in an opinion last year that efforts to legalize medical marijuana in the state would be preempted by federal law and “would be, therefore, unconstitutional.”
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

Nebraska Lawmakers Approve Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill


A Nebraska committee on Tuesday approved a bill to legalize medical marijuana in the state.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Anna Wishart (D), would allow patients with certain qualifying conditions to purchase and possess up to two and a half ounces of cannabis from licensed dispensaries. It would not allow patients to smoke marijuana, however.

Members of the Judiciary Committee approved the measure in a 5-2 vote, sending the bill to the full unicameral legislature for consideration.

Wishart and Sen. Adam Morfeld (D) have been consistent champions of cannabis reform, and while this bill is a fairly limited proposal to legalize medical marijuana, the pair announced in December that they’re working to put the question of legalization for adult use before voters in 2022.

Their campaign—Nebraskans for Medical Cannabis—is separately collecting signatures for a medical cannabis legalization measure that they hope to place on the 2022 ballot as well.

The group qualified a measure to legalize medical marijuana for last year’s ballot. But the state Supreme Court shut it down following a single-subject challenge.

Judiciary Chairman Steve Lathrop (R) voted in favor of the latest medical cannabis bill, stating that it’s a superior vehicle for the reform compared to one that would be placed on the ballot.

If activists do collect enough signatures to qualify either the medical or recreational cannabis measure, they will still likely face a challenge at the polls, as midterms generally see lower turnout as compared to presidential election years.

That said, it’s possible that the continuing momentum for reform via the ballot could spur lawmakers to potentially pass medical cannabis legislation such as Wishart’s bill in the meantime.



That said, Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) is an ardent opponent of marijuana reform, so it seems likely he would veto any medical cannabis bill that lawmakers sent to his desk.

Under last year’s blocked Nebraska medical cannabis initiative, physicians would have been able to recommend cannabis to patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions, and those patients would then have been allowed to possess, purchase and “discreetly” cultivate marijuana for personal use.

For what it’s worth, Nebraska’s attorney general said in an opinion in 2019 that efforts to legalize medical marijuana in the state would be preempted by federal law and “would be, therefore, unconstitutional.”
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

Nebraska Medical Marijuana Bill Will Go Before Full Legislature This Week


The Nebraska legislature is taking up a bill to legalize medical marijuana this week—the latest in a string of conservative states to consider the reform move recently.

Sen. Anna Wishart (D), sponsor of the legislation, announced that it will “be debated by the full legislature” on Wednesday.



This comes four months after the bill was introduced. It was approved in the Judiciary Committee in March, where it was subject to amendments.

The measure would allow patients with certain qualifying conditions to purchase and possess up to two and a half ounces of cannabis from licensed dispensaries. It would not allow patients to smoke marijuana, however.

While the bill originally would have generally allowed patients to access marijuana for any condition that the plant may treat, it was revised in committee to include a specific list of 17 qualifying conditions, including cancer, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain.

Passing in the GOP-controlled unicameral body is expected to be challenging, as lawmakers will likely have to overcome a filibuster with at least 33 votes for cloture. If they accomplish that, a vote could then take place to approve the reform bill itself.

But while the legislation as currently amended might prove to be difficult, it’s possible that legislators could accept additional changes and reach a compromise that makes the proposal more palatable to reform opponents.

“I think that proponents for medical cannabis are willing to see compromises on the bill if that means getting something done,” Jared Moffat, state campaigns manager for the national Marijuana Policy Project, told Marijuana Moment.

Wishart and Sen. Adam Morfeld (D) have been consistent champions of cannabis reform, and while this bill is a fairly limited proposal to legalize medical marijuana, the pair announced in December that they’re working to put the question of legalization for adult use before voters in 2022.

Their campaign—Nebraskans for Medical Cannabis—is separately collecting signatures for a medical cannabis legalization measure that they hope to place on the 2022 ballot as well.

The group qualified a measure to legalize medical marijuana for last year’s ballot. But the state Supreme Court shut it down following a single-subject challenge.

In the Judiciary hearing, Chairman Steve Lathrop (R) said that he voted in favor of the medical cannabis legalization bill partly because he feels it would be a better alternative compared to the measure that could be placed on the ballot.

If activists do collect enough signatures to qualify either the medical or recreational cannabis measure, they will still likely face a challenge at the polls, as midterms generally see lower turnout as compared to presidential election years.

That said, it’s possible that the continuing momentum for reform via the ballot could spur lawmakers to potentially pass medical cannabis legislation such as Wishart’s bill in the meantime.

Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) is an adamant opponent of marijuana reform, so it seems likely he would veto any medical cannabis bill that lawmakers sent to his desk. Overriding a gubernatorial veto would require 30 votes, meaning at least some members of his own party would have to move to reject the governor’s action.

Under last year’s blocked Nebraska medical cannabis initiative, physicians would have been able to recommend cannabis to patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions, and those patients would then have been allowed to possess, purchase and “discreetly” cultivate marijuana for personal use.

For what it’s worth, Nebraska’s attorney general said in an opinion in 2019 that efforts to legalize medical marijuana in the state would be preempted by federal law and “would be, therefore, unconstitutional.”
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

Nebraska Activists Relaunch Medical Marijuana Ballot Campaign After Legislative Filibuster Blocks Bill



Nebraska marijuana activists are wasting no time relaunching a campaign to put a medical cannabis legalization initiative before voters in 2022 after the legislature failed to pass a reform bill on Wednesday.

The defeat of the fairly restrictive legislation in the unicameral body, which was the result of a filibuster that supporters were unable to overcome, came with an open threat from advocates: since lawmakers won’t fulfill the will of voters, who overwhelmingly support medical marijuana, the voters will move to approve an even more comprehensive legalization measure.



Hours after the bill fell two just votes short of the 33 senators it needed to advance, Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana announced that activists will immediately ramp up a signature drive for a constitutional ballot initiative. They have reason to be confident that the campaign will be successful, too, as the group qualified a medical cannabis measure for the 2020 ballot, amid a pandemic.

That initiative never appeared before voters, however, because the state Supreme Court ruled that it violated what’s known as the single subject rule for ballot issues. To avoid that problem this round, the new proposed measure is a single sentence: “Persons in the State of Nebraska shall have the right to cannabis in all its forms for medical purposes.”






Nebraska marijuana activists are wasting no time relaunching a campaign to put a medical cannabis legalization initiative before voters in 2022 after the legislature failed to pass a reform bill on Wednesday.
The defeat of the fairly restrictive legislation in the unicameral body, which was the result of a filibuster that supporters were unable to overcome, came with an open threat from advocates: since lawmakers won’t fulfill the will of voters, who overwhelmingly support medical marijuana, the voters will move to approve an even more comprehensive legalization measure.


Hours after the bill fell two just votes short of the 33 senators it needed to advance, Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana announced that activists will immediately ramp up a signature drive for a constitutional ballot initiative. They have reason to be confident that the campaign will be successful, too, as the group qualified a medical cannabis measure for the 2020 ballot, amid a pandemic.
That initiative never appeared before voters, however, because the state Supreme Court ruled that it violated what’s known as the single subject rule for ballot issues. To avoid that problem this round, the new proposed measure is a single sentence: “Persons in the State of Nebraska shall have the right to cannabis in all its forms for medical purposes.”


“It was true last year and it remains true today that the vast majority of Nebraskans are on our side when it comes to this issue,” Sen. Anna Wishart (D), sponsor of the cannabis bill and co-chair of the reform campaign, said in a press release. “Voters were unfairly denied the opportunity to enact reform last year, but this time we’re ready for any legal challenge, and we will succeed.”
Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana is also thinking about filing a separate, statutory petition that would establish a regulatory framework for a medical cannabis program in the state.



This is what multiple senators warned opponents about during the hours-long floor session on Wednesday. Even some of those who don’t necessarily favor loosening laws around marijuana explained to their colleagues that failure to pass the bill likely meant that voters would circumvent them and approve something that is significantly less restrictive.

The legislation that Wishart would have allowed patients with a certain set of qualifying conditions to purchase and possess cannabis from licensed dispensaries. And it wouldn’t have allowed patients to smoke marijuana.

Wishart and Sen. Adam Morfeld (D) have been consistent champions of cannabis reform, and while this bill is a fairly limited proposal to legalize medical marijuana, the pair announced in December that they’re also working to put the question of legalization for adult use before voters in 2022.



For a constitutional amendment initiative, advocates will need to collect about 124,000 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. By contrast, the campaign submitted nearly 200,000 signatures last year before the legal challenge over language.

If activists do collect enough signatures to qualify either the medical or recreational cannabis measure, they will still likely face a challenge at the polls, as midterms generally see lower turnout as compared to presidential election years.

Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) is an adamant opponent of marijuana reform, so it seems likely he would have vetoed any medical cannabis bill that lawmakers sent to his desk. Overriding a gubernatorial veto would’ve required 30 votes, meaning at least some members of his own party would have had to move to reject the governor’s action.

Under last year’s blocked Nebraska medical cannabis initiative, physicians would have been able to recommend cannabis to patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions, and those patients would then have been allowed to possess, purchase and “discreetly” cultivate marijuana for personal use.

For what it’s worth, Nebraska’s attorney general said in an opinion in 2019 that efforts to legalize medical marijuana in the state would be preempted by federal law and “would be, therefore, unconstitutional.”
 

bulllee

Well-Known Member

Nebraska medical cannabis advocates take another stab at legalization​

Published 2 hours ago



Nebraska medical cannabis legalization advocates are trying yet again to pass an MMJ bill via a ballot measure.

Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana will start gathering signatures this weekend to get a measure on the November 2022 ballot, according to Lincoln radio station KLIN.
The organization gathered more than enough signatures to get a medical marijuana measure on the 2020 ballot, but the initiative was challenged for including more than one “subject.”
The state Supreme Court ruled that the measure was unconstitutional after a last-minute lawsuit filed by the sheriff of Lancaster County.
The advocacy group plans to circulate two petitions:
  • One would establish legal protections for patients who have a recommendation to use medical cannabis.
  • The other would establish a regulatory system for private businesses seeking to provide MMJ to patients.
Circulators have until the first week of July 2022 to collect roughly 250,000 signatures.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

Nebraska Governor Partners With Prohibitionist Group On Ad Opposing Medical Marijuana


The Republican governor of Nebraska is partnering with a chapter of the nation’s leading marijuana prohibitionist group to run ads urging residents to oppose cannabis reform in the state.

Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) was featured in a 30-second ad that was paid for by SAM Nebraska, an affiliate of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, and which began airing on local TV stations last week. He argues that marijuana doesn’t have medical value and that the industry is using the issue as a Trojan horse to ultimately get adult-use legalization enacted.

This comes as pro-legalization advocates step up their reform push by circulating a pair of medical cannabis reform initiatives that they hope to put before voters on the 2022 ballot. Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana has until July to collect 87,000 valid signatures to qualify each of their complementary measures.

Ricketts apparently wants to get ahead of the issue.

“The only difference between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana is word choice,” the governor said in the new ad. “Doctors can’t prescribe it and pharmacists can’t provide it because it’s not medicine.”

“Today the marijuana industry has set its sights on Nebraska. And the real goal is the legalization of recreational marijuana across the state,” he said. “We’ve seen what happens when progressive politics trump science and common sense. That can’t happen. It’s up to us to protect our kids and defend our communities. Big Marijuana’s way is the wrong way for Nebraska.”

While the ad ignores the political reality that there’s strong bipartisan support for medical cannabis, the governor’s talking points are at least more tempered than his remarks in May, when he said marijuana “is a dangerous drug that will impact our kids” and “if you legalize marijuana, you’re gonna kill your kids.”

State Sen. Adam Morfeld (D), a cochair of the pro-reform group Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, blasted Ricketts for “running $500,000 in anti medical marijuana ads across the state,” tweeting that he supposes the governor is taking steps to make the 2022 election “be a referendum on marijuana.”



Morfeld told Marijuana Moment that “no amount of money will change the fact that over 70 percent of Nebraskans from across the political spectrum support the legalization of medical marijuana.”



Sen. Anna Wishart (D), who is also cochair of the group, said in a statement that there’s “no amount of negative advertising or dark money spent in opposition to our campaign that outweighs the grassroots support of this issue from Nebraskans across our state who come from all walks of life and every political party.”



“Those of you who care about this issue, keep your chins up; we will not stop our efforts until we have a safe, compassionate and common sense medical cannabis system in our state,” she said. “Now let’s go collect some signatures!”

SAM Executive Vice President Luke Niforatos confirmed to Marijuana Moment that the organization’s Nebraska affiliate is spending in the six figures for the ad campaign, which also features two separate spots featuring medical and law enforcement professionals raising concerns about cannabis.



Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, which is behind the two reform ballot initiatives, sent an email blast to supporters about the new opposition ads.

“If these ads make you angry, they should. The content is dishonest and disrespectful to the families and grassroots patient advocates who are leading this movement for compassionate cannabis laws,” they wrote. “It is clear that the anti-cannabis extremists—many from groups that exist outside of Nebraska—will stop at nothing to prevent us from creating a system of safe, legal access to medical cannabis.

The 2022 ballot effort isn’t the first time that Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana has pushed for reform despite the governor’s opposition.

Activists collected enough signatures to qualify a medical marijuana legalization measure for the 2020 ballot, but the state Supreme Court invalidated it, finding that the proposal violated the single-subject rule for citizen initiatives.

That’s why the campaign deliberately chose to take a bifurcated approach this time around, with the complementary proposals to the reform to avoid such a legal challenge.

One of the statutory initiatives would establish legal protections for patients and doctors around cannabis, while the other would allow private companies to produce and sell medical marijuana products.

Lawmakers attempted to advance medical cannabis reform legislatively this year, but while the unicameral legislature debated a bill to legalize medical marijuana in May, it failed to advance past a filibuster because the body didn’t have enough votes to overcome it.

Morfeld and Wishart announced last December that they would also work to put the question of legalizing marijuana for adult use before voters in 2022. But for now their focus appears to be on the medical cannabis effort.

For what it’s worth, Nebraska’s attorney general argued in an opinion in 2019 that efforts to legalize medical marijuana legislatively in the state would be preempted by federal law and “would be, therefore, unconstitutional.”
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

Tragic Death of Top Donor Leaves Nebraska Medical Cannabis Campaign in Limbo

In spite of a “huge setback,” the group Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana is still determined to hit its $500,000 fundraising goal by May 1.

Tragedy has left a campaign to legalize medical cannabis in Nebraska scrambling for new donors, as the group aims to get a pair of proposals on the state ballot this year.

The Omaha World Herald reported this week that the group “Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana lost two individuals who were expected to make a major contribution to the current legalization campaign.”

One donor who made contributions to the group’s previous failed bid to get a medical cannabis proposal on the 2020 ballot died in a plane crash, Democratic state Sen. Anna Wishart, a co-sponsor of Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, told the newspaper.

Another individual who was expected to contribute to the group this year was diagnosed with terminal cancer, according to the Omaha World Herald, which said that Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana notified supporters of the “huge setback” in an email on Wednesday.

The World Herald reported that, despite the loss of two key donors, “Wishart was still confident the group could meet its $500,000 fundraising goal by May 1,” although she “declined to say how much the campaign has raised so far.”

According to the newspaper, “the campaign had a cash balance that was less than $30,000” as of a month ago.

The group announced in September that it had “recently filed drafts of the measures with the Nebraska Secretary of State and expects to begin circulating petitions later this month” for two separate medical cannabis proposals to make it onto the Cornhusker State ballot this year.

Under the first initiative, the Nebraska legislature would be required to enact new laws that would enshrine protections for physicians in the state who recommend medical cannabis treatment, as well as the patients who use it, from criminal prosecution.

The second proposal would require lawmakers in the state to to pass a bill establishing the regulatory framework for medical cannabis suppliers.

Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana is being led by Crista Eggers, whose six-year-old son has severe intractable epilepsy.

Eggers said in an announcement in September that patients like her son Colton, “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 at the time. “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.”

According to the Omaha World Herald, “each petition would need nearly 87,000 signatures” by the July 7, 2022 deadline in order to qualify for the ballot.

The newspaper reported that “Wishart believes each petition has about 25,000 signatures so far, and said signature gathering is one of the main reasons why donations are so crucial to these campaigns.”

Absent additional funding, “Wishart said it would not be impossible for the campaign to succeed, but it would be extraordinary,” according to the World Herald.

Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana tried to get a proposal on the 2020 ballot in the state, but after gathering almost 200,000 signatures, the group was stymied by the Nebraska Supreme Court, which ruled that the initiative violated state rules and was ineligible for the ballot.

At the time of the announcement in September, Wishart struck an optimistic note, saying this time around would be different.

“It was true last year and it remains true today that the vast majority of Nebraskans are on our side when it comes to this issue,” Wishart said. “Voters were unfairly denied the opportunity to enact reform last year, but this time, we’re ready for any legal challenge, and we will succeed.”
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member

Politics

Federal Court Sides With Nebraska Medical Marijuana Activists In Lawsuit Over Ballot Requirements



A federal judge gave a campaign to legalize medical marijuana in Nebraska a second wind on Monday, siding with the activists in a lawsuit over the state’s signature gathering requirements for ballot measures.

With about three weeks left before the July 7 deadline to turn in enough valid petitions to qualify a pair of reform measures for the ballot, U.S. District Judge Joh Gerrard issued a preliminary injunction against the state, barring officials from enforcing a requirement that activists collect signatures from a minimum of five percent of voters in at least 38 counties across the state.

Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana (NMM) and the ACLU of Nebraska sought the relief through a lawsuit filed last month as the prospects of getting ballot qualification dimmed due to the loss of critical campaign funding.

Activists argued that the geographical signature requirement is unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause, unnecessarily suppressing the ability of citizens to put issues on the ballot by giving outsized influence to people living in remote, rural areas of Nebraska.


The judge sided with the campaign, and also had some sharp words for the secretary of state and attorney general, which in their filing had suggested that the 38-country rule is “inseverable from the general initiative power” and, without it, the entire citizen initiative process would need to be invalidated.


“For the State to argue that the baby must go with the bathwater is eyebrow-raising,” the ruling states. “The Court disagrees with the Secretary: The right of initiative is, the Court finds, a fundamental right that the citizens of Nebraska possess, so the State may not discriminate against them in their exercise of that right.”


The order is preliminary, so there’s still a chance that the overall case challenging the requirements might not turn out in activists’ favor and that their efforts through the beginning of next month could end up being for nought, but the court said that it issued the temporary injunction because it feels that the activists “are likely to succeed on their Equal Protection claim.”

Sen. Anna Wishart (D), campaign co-chair for NMM, said in a press release that the court order is “a big win for all the Nebraskans fighting for years to legalize medical cannabis.”


“Nebraskans across the state support this issue because they know a loved one, friend or neighbor who is sick and would benefit from having access to medical cannabis,” she said. “They deserve a vote in November.”


Sen. Adam Morfeld (D), another proponent of the legalization initiatives, said that this is “an important development for the medical cannabis campaign, but it’s also so much more.”

“The right to petition our state government for change is sacred—it’s fundamental to good governance,” he said, adding that the court order will help protect Nebraskans’ political power in this critical stretch ahead of a final decision, and it suggests we’re doing what we need to do to win this lawsuit and permanently end Nebraska’s unconstitutional multicounty signature distribution requirement.”

NMM announced last month that it was restructuring its plan to put medical marijuana legalization on the ballot after losing key funding. The campaign had aimed to raise $1 million so that it could hire paid signature canvassers, but after the death of one key donor and terminal diagnosis of another, the campaign is left with just about $30,000 on hand.

Supporters held a virtual press conference last month to detail their new plan to qualify a pair of cannabis initiatives for the November ballot.

One initiative would require lawmakers to codify protections for doctors who recommend cannabis and patients who purchase and possess it. The other would mandate legislative action to safeguard marijuana businesses that supply the product.

The reason that the measures are narrowly tailored and bifurcated is because activists want to avoid the type of legal challenge that led the state Supreme Court to invalidate a prior medical cannabis legalization measure that they successfully collected more than enough signatures for to qualify for the 2020 ballot.

The court ruled that year that the initiative violated the single-subject rule for ballot measures because it took a comprehensive approach to setting regulations for the program.

For each of the new 2022 initiatives, activists will need to collect about 87,000 valid signatures. Activists said early last month that they’d gathered about 25,000.
 

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