Medical Cannabis Advocates Submit Petition to Raise Issues on 2024 Ballot

LINCOLN — Medical marijuana advocates announced Thursday plans to launch an initiative petition to put the issue on the 2024 ballot.

The group, Nebraskans Seeking Medical Marijuana, filed a paperwork Thursday with the Nebraska Secretary of State’s office.

Christa Eggers, a spokesperson for the advocacy group and whose son suffers from frequent seizures, said the effort would start early to collect the more than 100,000 signatures needed.

“We have no choice but to continue petitioning the government,” Eggers said. “Despite more than 80% of Nebraskans of every party, region, age, etc. supporting this, Congress is refusing to act.”

I ran out of money last year

Last year’s petition campaign failed to gather enough signatures to qualify to vote in 2022, as financial issues prevented the hiring of professional petition circulars.

Thirty-eight states, three territories and the District of Columbia now allow medical use of cannabis products, according to the National Congress of States.

For the past eight years, Nebraska supporters have been close to it, but have been unable to elicit state participation.

ballot discarded by court

In 2020, a medical cannabis ballot initiative was eligible to vote, but was dismissed after the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that such initiatives violated the state’s “single subject” rule.

In 2021, a bill in Congress to legalize cannabis for medical use was two votes short of overcoming a filibuster.

Lincoln State Senator Anna Wishart introduced a bill this year called the Medical Marijuana Act, which is similar to the 2021 bill but was not introduced by the Judiciary Commission.

This year’s effort consists of two petitions, both statutory, one calling for the establishment of a physician-patient system and one calling for regulation of the industry.

Wishart, speaking on the floor of parliament on Thursday, said doctors had told Eggers that medical marijuana could save his son’s life.

Proponents argue that cannabis is an effective and safe medical alternative for reducing pain, seizures, and symptoms of PTSD. Critics, including former Gov. Pete Ricketts, say legalization will lead to increased marijuana use by teens and other problems.

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