Despite the heavy burden associated with losing major donors and challenging a constitutional status of signature collection, a group of medical cannabis legalization advocates reported major progress this week in Nebraska.
The supporters of Nebraskas for medical marijuana (NMM), a grassroots effort to put two medical cannabis legalization initiatives on the state’s November ballot, announced on June 2 that it had doubled its signature count — to about 40,000 for each measure — in the last two weeks alone.
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State Senator Anna Wishart, D-Lincoln, co-sponsor of the petitions, also announcement On Thursday, the group raised $50,000, recruited more than 100 paid volunteer circulators to help collect signatures and qualified 15 of Nebraska’s 93 counties as well in the past two weeks.
The group has until July 7 to collect about 87,000 valid signatures from registered voters for each measure to qualify for the ballot. Wishart told the Lincoln Journal Star the group is on track to meet this deadline.
“We are really organizing a campaign,” she said, “and we have a ton of people who have come out of the house to come and grab a petition and collect signatures.”
The progress follows NMM’s loss of two of its biggest donors during its 2020 election campaign, when the group collected the required signatures for that year’s ballot only for the Nebraska Supreme Court to rule that the petition violated the single subject rule in the state constitution.
Since then, a campaign donor has died in a plane crash and another has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, leaving the group well short of the million dollars supporters hoped they would have available to raise funds. signatures, Cannabis time reported last month.
Additionally, NMM filed a lawsuit last month challenging the state’s constitutional law that requires petitions to contain the signatures of 5% of registered voters in each of the state’s 38 least populated counties. The group’s supporters argue that the 5% rule establishes political power in rural areas of the state, The Associated Press reported.
Regrouping after the 2020 Supreme Court decision, one of the NMM Petitions 2022 seeks to add a line to the state Constitution that provides a “right to cannabis in all forms for medical purposes.” The 2020 initiative violated the single subject rule in that it sought to grant the right to possess, grow, sell and use medical cannabis, according to BallotPedia.org.
That of the group another petition aims to protect eligible patients and their caregivers from arrest for using medical cannabis as recommended by a physician.
Nebraska is one of 13 states where unrestricted low-THC medical cannabis remains illegal. In the current state laws and penaltiespossessing 1 ounce to 1 pound of cannabis is a misdemeanor punishable by up to three months in jail and a $500 fine.
Nicole Hochstein, Regional Volunteer Coordinator for NMM, is the mother of a pre-teen with epilepsy.
“It is frustrating that politicians have ignored the will of the people and denied my son and thousands of other patients the compassion they deserve,” she said in a statement. statement end of 2021, when NMM announced the launch of its 2022 campaign.
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“But this election campaign gives hope to families like ours,” Hochstein said. “We see democracy in action today, and I look forward to speaking with hundreds of other Nebraskans…and asking them to sign off on these two very important initiatives.”