Nebraska medical marijuana petition group reports signature spike, strategizes for summer events

Just when it seemed the effort may be stalled a petition drive to put medical marijuana on the November ballot gains traction.
Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 5:32 PM CDT
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PAPILLION, Neb. (WOWT) - Just when it seemed the effort might be stalled, a petition drive to put medical marijuana on the November ballot in Nebraska is gaining traction.

Organizers said Thursday that they had doubled the signature count in just two weeks.

Targeting farmer’s markets and planning to maximize opportunities at the College World Series later this month and Fourth of July events next month, organizers say they are taking petitions to the people.

“This is purely grassroots, which is unheard of in Nebraska,” Dom Gillen said.

In two weeks, Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana have doubled the number of signatures collected — from 20,000 to 40,000 — but isn’t yet at the halfway mark. The initiative will need 87,000 signatures in order to appear on the ballot in about five months.

While the campaign has recruited 150 paid volunteers, Gillen has been there since the beginning. His son, Will — whose photo is front and center to this story — is 21 years old now and continues to suffer from uncontrollable seizures. His family believes medical marijuana could help him with that.

“Keep it up, Nebraska, because we’re getting it done,” Gillen said.

With 36 days to go, organizers are targeting all sorts of summer destinations, and residents are doing what they can, too.

Stacked next to clothes, toys, and books at a garage sale in Papillion is the medical cannabis petition drive.

“We are out and about everywhere we can think of,” Nicole Hochstein said. “Garage sales have been good to us; neighbors talking to neighbors.”

She has skin in the game, too: Her son, Jayen, also suffers from seizures. He’s not much into garage sales, so he’s spending the morning building on Minecraft while mom collects signatures.

While organizers have heard opponents argue that allowing medical marijuana into Nebraska will open the door to recreational marijuana, the petitions may tell a different story.

Those signing it believe that Nebraskans should have medical marijuana as an option.

“We have a huge job ahead of us,” said Crista Eggers of NMM. “What Nebraskans have shown us is that there is more we can to make it happen.”

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