Just two weeks ago, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that a 2020 ballot initiative to legalize medical cannabis violates the single subject rule as outlined in the state constitution and could not go before voters this November. Advocates who put forward the measure, gathered the required signatures and received approval from the Nebraska secretary of state have announced they are already working on a constitutional amendment for voters to decide on in 2022.
Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana filed new petition language with Secretary of State Robert Evnen Sept. 28 that the committee intends to qualify for the November 2022 ballot in Nebraska, according to a press release. State Senators Anna Wishart and Adam Morfeld, co-chairs of Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, are co-sponsoring the initiative, that reads, “Persons in the State of Nebraska shall have the right to cannabis in all its forms for medical purposes.”
The 2020 ballot language, which would have amended the state constitution, would have both legalized possession, consumption and the purchase of cannabis for individuals with serious medical conditions if recommended by a licensed physician or nurse practitioner, and provided a means to access it by authorizing private entities to cultivate, process, produce, test and sell medical cannabis products, among other details.
“After carefully reviewing the opinion from the five [Nebraska] Supreme Court judges who ruled to remove the 2020 initiative from the ballot, Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana decided to take the route of the successful effort of casino gaming supporters and file a simple, one-sentence constitutional right that will then be followed with trailing statutory initiatives to set up a safe and secure medical cannabis system in Nebraska,” the group wrote in the press release.
“Families with loved ones suffering from conditions like epilepsy, PTSD, Parkinson’s, and cancer have fought for years to make medical cannabis safely accessible in our state as it is in 33 other states,” Sen. Wishart said in the press release. “This year over 190,000 Nebraskans successfully petitioned our government during a pandemic for that right, and despite receiving qualification from the secretary of state, our initiative was removed from the ballot by a 5-2 vote from Nebraska’s Supreme Court. We will not give up and intend to bring this fight to the legislature in January with a bill that I will introduce and to the ballot in 2022.”
Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana said the group will use the strategy the campaign to legalize casino gaming was successful with by qualifying three separate initiatives — one constitutional and two statutory — for the 2020 ballot. The related statutory initiatives will be filed in 2021 if the legislature does not pass a bill Sen. Wishart will be introducing in January, the group stated.
“After following the Supreme Court’s previous case law the first time, we will follow their most recent precedent again by filing language that is one sentence,” Sen. Morfeld said in the press release. “Our new petition language indisputably presents a single subject and makes medical cannabis a constitutional right. Then following with several statutory initiatives, we will establish a safe and regulated medical cannabis system. Nebraskans have a constitutional right to petition their government, and we will not stop until they can exercise their right and have their voices heard on medical cannabis.”