Activists in Nebraska have initiated a fundraising campaign to garner support for the inclusion of two medical cannabis legalization proposals on the state’s 2024 ballot. The group, Nebraskans for Medical Cannabis (NMM), has already begun the circulation of petitions and claims to have satisfied signature requirements in two counties by the end of last month.
The recent launch event held in Lincoln aimed to address a significant hurdle faced last year: the loss of vital funding after a major donor’s tragic death in a plane crash.
This is the third attempt by NMM to present the reform proposal to voters, and activists maintain their optimism, believing they will secure the necessary grassroots backing and resources to succeed this time around.
The launch showcased the involvement of various caregivers, patients and activists in medical marijuana advocacy, including key figures such as Crista Eggers, the campaign manager, and Senator Anna Wishart and former Senator Adam Morfeld, both of whom cochair NMM.
The campaign is set to obtain signatures from at least 5% of registered voters in 38 counties by year-end, with two counties already accomplished. To secure a place on the November 2024 ballot, the campaign must collect approximately 87,000 valid signatures from registered voters for each petition, in addition to meeting the county-specific goals, by July 5, 2024.
One of the initiatives seeks to establish safeguards for doctors recommending cannabis and patients purchasing and possessing it, effectively creating qualified immunity. The second initiative plans to establish a state cannabis commission to oversee the registration and regulation of individuals involved in the production, distribution and dispensing of medical cannabis.
Governor Jim Pillen has voiced opposition to marijuana reform, asserting that medical cannabis should only be accessible through FDA-approved processes, citing potential risks to children. In contrast, Eggers, NMM’s campaign manager, is determined to advocate for children such as her son, who suffers from severe seizures and could benefit from medical cannabis.
NMM initially submitted its reform petitions in May, with signature collection starting in July. An earlier campaign secured enough signatures for the 2020 ballot but was invalidated by the state Supreme Court due to a single-subject challenge. Subsequently, the revised petitions fell short due to a lack of funding following the tragic plane crash that claimed a key donor’s life.
Efforts by Nebraska legislators, including Wishart, to enact marijuana reform legislatively have consistently faced hurdles in the conservative legislature. Despite receiving a hearing in the unicameral Judiciary Committee in February, Wishart’s medical marijuana bill did not progress, which she attributed to changes in committee membership. A prior version of the measure faced a filibuster and ultimately stalled in the GOP-controlled legislature.
As many more states and countries work to ease their marijuana regulations, companies such as SNDL Inc. (NASDAQ: SNDL) will have a bigger pool of potential markets into which to expand as they grow their footprints.
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