Medical Cannabis in Nebraska? It's a No.

Stephen Andrews
25 Aug 2022

The Nebraska voter initiative committee Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana (NMM) has worked to put two medical marijuana measures on the ballot in 2022. However, both initiatives have failed—a disappointing development for thousands of patients across the Cornhusker State who can benefit from medical cannabis.

The Cornhusker State's medical weed initiative did not qualify for the upcoming November ballot. Nebraska activists submitted their petitions in July, and the results of their efforts officially came out on Monday, August 22. 

"Today, the Nebraska Secretary of State announced that our effort to relieve the pain of so many suffering Nebraskans did not meet the minimum qualifications of verified signatures to end up on the November ballot. To say we are devastated would be an understatement," the campaign said in a Facebook announcement Monday. 

"Suffering Nebraskans should never be faced with having to move themselves or their families out of the state they call home just to have access to health care," the post added.

The NMM group turned in more than 184,000 signatures to the office of the Nebraska secretary of state last month, less than an hour before the deadline. 

The activists pursued "two complementary initiatives" for the state ballot, including the Patient Protection Act, which would grant legal protections for medical patients and their caregivers, and the Medical Cannabis Regulation Act, which would establish the Nebraska Medical Cannabis Commission, a body to regulate medical cannabis businesses statewide. Unfortunately, none of the two initiatives will be on the ballot this time. 

The Nebraskans activists faced several setbacks during their campaign to collect signatures. Earlier this year, one of the group's top donors had died in a plane crash, and another donor had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The tragedies led the group to plead for donations. 

In a way, the failure was expected. In early July, organizers said they would likely miss the signature goal required to qualify for the November ballot. 

According to the Associated Press, "each proposal needed nearly 87,000 signatures — or a total of 7% of registered voters — as well as 5% of registered voters in at least 38 of Nebraska's 93 counties to put the proposals to a vote of the people."

The Patient Protections initiative reportedly collected 77,843 valid signatures, and the 5% threshold was met in only 26 counties. That measure would have legalized the use of up to 5 ounces of medical pot for qualifying conditions. 

The Cannabis regulation initiative amassed 77,119 signatures, and the 5% threshold was met in 27 counties. It would have regulated the possession, manufacture, distribution, delivery, and prescription of medical marijuana, and it would have established a state commission to oversee Nebraska's medical cannabis program

The NMM group says "there is no giving up." They add: "When we receive the results from the Secretary of State's office, we will analyze the data and then we will immediately get to work on qualifying for the 2024 ballot."

Nebraska is one of the rare U.S. states where cannabis remains fully illegal. The movement to legalize medical marijuana has been supported by Gov. Pete Ricketts and other prominent state Republican leaders. 

Stephen Andrews