In an unfortunate series of events, the Nebraska Supreme Court has ultimately ruled to remove the medical marijuana initiative from the November ballot, despite receiving enough signatures to qualify. Local police officers believed the ballot violates the state’s single-subject rule and took the case to court.
Reasons for Denial
When local activists submitted enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, they were met with some opposition. Local authorities believed it was almost impossible to legalize medical marijuana without consequentially creating or legalizing something else in the process. Thus, potentially violating the state’s single-subject rule for ballot initiatives.
As a result, authorities took the ballot initiative to court, suggesting it contains more than one legislation, potentially confusing voters. Lawyers for both the sheriff and advocates, including state Sens. Anna Wishart (D) and Adam Morfeld (D), presented their arguments on Sept. 10. Unfortunately, the supreme court voted in favor of the plaintiffs.
“As proposed, the [Nebraska Medical Cannabis Constitutional Amendment] contains more than one subject—by our count, it contains at least eight subjects,” according to the court. “In addition to enshrining in our constitution a right of certain persons to produce and medicinally use cannabis under subsections (1) and (2), in subsections (3) and (4), the NMCCA would enshrine a right and immunity for entities to grow and sell cannabis; and in subsections (6), (7), and (8), it would regulate the role of cannabis in at least six areas of public life. These secondary purposes are not naturally and necessarily connected to the NMCCA’s primary purpose. As such, they constitute logrolling.”
As a result, residents of Nebraska will have to wait longer before seeing medical marijuana legalized. It could take another four years before the state gets an opportunity like that. Luckily, local advocates are relentless and won’t wait to take action.
Advocates Still Won’t Quit
While the news comes as a loss, local advocates keep fighting. According to an Email Blast, Senator Wishart will return in January with more legalization. On top of that, Nebraska for Medical Marijuana remains optimistic and sees positive growth in the medical marijuana movement in Nebraska.
“Like all of you, we are absolutely devastated by the Supreme Court ruling,” reads Nebraska for Medical Marijuana’s Facebook post. “But this fight is not over. Nothing changes the fact that an overwhelming majority of Nebraskans stand with the patients and families who deserve compassion and safe access to medical cannabis. We will be regrouping and updating you all soon with plans for our next steps.”
Other advocates, like Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project, are more direct. He sees this not only as a delay for medical marijuana but a denial of proper healthcare.
“This is an outrageous and deeply flawed decision by a group of activist judges,” Schweich said in a press release. “This ruling means that sick and suffering medical marijuana patients, including veterans, will continue to be criminals in Nebraska when they try to live healthier lives. This ruling tramples on the constitutional rights of over 190,000 Nebraskans who signed the petition and deprives the voters of Nebraska of their opportunity to decide this issue at the ballot box.”
Those 190,000 Nebraskans will only grow from now. Hopefully, the state sees the mistakes this time around and corrects them before the next opportunity. It’s hard to deny the large majority of Nebraskans who actually want to see medical marijuana legalized. This isn’t the last you’ll hear of Nebraska fighting for medical marijuana.
“Medical marijuana will be legal in Nebraska one day,” Schweich said. “We lost this battle but we will undoubtedly win the war. We’ll be back.”