Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana turn in more than 90,000 petition signatures

The signatures must be validated before next actions can occur.
Even after facing roadblocks and failures, organizers are feeling confident.
Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 6:18 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana had until 4 p.m. Thursday to submit 87,000 signatures on both its petitions to put the medical marijuana issue on the next state ballot.

6 News was at the Nebraska Secretary of State’s office Thursday afternoon when organizers said they had “well over” 90,000 signatures on each, and were hopeful the initiative will make it onto the state’s November ballot.

“Two months ago we were at 20,000 signatures on each petition, and now we’re well over 90,000 on each,” said an emotional State Senator Anna Wishart Thursday to dozens of volunteers.

“You know, we just got done submitting the stories of people right in our state, the stories of people who really, really need this and I had the incredible honor to get to hear those stories and come alongside of people who fought this issue with everything they had in them,” said NMM campaign manager Crista Eggers after officially filing the petition with the Secretary of State.

Eggers’ son, Colton, is one of the many that she says will benefit from medical marijuana because of his uncontrollable seizures.

“We talk about what mom’s doing for her job is trying to help people and I think that’s what he understands and someday I will get to tell him about all the people in this state who wanted to fight for him,” Eggers said.

The petition must now go through a verification and certification process in order to determine its validity before it makes its way into the balloting process.

After several failed attempts at convincing Nebraska lawmakers to allow medical marijuana and the Nebraska Supreme Court overturning the last initiative, families behind the drive have continued to push forward in their efforts to bring the issue before voters.

It hasn’t been easy.

The group did reach enough signatures to be put on the ballot in 2020, but the referendum was ultimately struck down by the Nebraska Supreme Court due to a technicality.

The latest campaign suffered a major blow early on when one of its top donors died, forcing organizers to rely primarily on volunteers. Over the holiday weekend, the petitions were still several thousand signatures short despite making gains since June. As a result, the petition drive worked nearly up to the deadline, with plans to collect signatures in Lincoln until 3 p.m. Thursday. That last push came on the heels of a federal appeals court decision Wednesday that effectively overturned a judge’s ruling altering the signature-gathering requirements to get the measure on the Nebraska ballot.

“I am anxious obviously to find out what those numbers were but we feel very good about things and we’re incredibly proud of how our campaign has overcome such great odds to be here, where a lot of people and a lot of campaigns I don’t think would be,” Eggers said. “That shows our campaign was something that the people of Nebraska supported, they got behind, and they want.”

Gov. Ricketts has been one of the most vocal opponents for years, arguing that states that legalize marijuana either outright or medically, see a human toll, including devastating impacts on kids.

According to DISA Global Solutions, a provider of compliance testing, Nebraska is one of several states that has decriminalized marijuana but has not legalized medical marijuana.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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