Advocates in Nebraska have been working for years to qualify legal, medicinal cannabis for the November ballot. Unfortunately, the group’s second push, including two petitions to separately legalize and to regulate
Christa Eggers, with Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana (NMM), coordinated the Nebraska medical cannabis initiative and told the
The group has always centered medical cannabis legalization in its mission,
Eggers is especially close to the issue; her son Colton has suffered from epileptic seizures since he was two years old, up to 100 a day. They have tried more than a dozen medications to help him, though none have worked. She and her family believe that legalizing medical cannabis in Nebraska will provide a better life to Colton and others in the state who are similarly out of other effective treatment options.
NMM would still focus its energy on medical cannabis legalization, though Eggers said adding recreational cannabis for adult use would attract larger donations and this could ultimately be necessary to get a medical cannabis initiative on the ballot. The failure of this year’s petition drive was due in part to lack of funds to hire paid, professional petition circulators, Nebraska Examiner reports.
“There is nothing off the table about how we get this done,” Eggers said. “I’m a parent, and I will do whatever it takes, and go to the ends of the Earth, to help my child.”
Not the First Attempt By Nebraska Medical Cannabis Advocates
During NMM’s first attempt back in 2020, the petition drive gathered more than enough signatures to qualify a single initiative for voters. Nebraska’s Supreme Court ultimately knocked it off the ballot, saying the language violated the state’s “single subject” rule. This is what created two separate petitions for the legalization and regulation of medical cannabis, instead of grouping both concepts into one petition.
This time, the Secretary of State’s Office said both submitted petitions fell short. The state requires valid signatures from 86,776 voters, with at least five percent of registered voters in 38 of the state’s 98 counties for each petition. The petition that would legalize medical cannabis collected 77,843 signatures and qualified in 26 counties. The companion petition to regulate the sale of medical cannabis turned in 77,119 valid signatures and qualified in 27 counties.
NMM primarily used volunteers for its petitioning efforts. To put it into perspective, two other initiative petition drives this year, using paid, professional petition circulators, turned in more than 160,000 signatures each. NMM’s last campaign spending report listed about $146,000 in expenditures, compared to spending of $1.77 million by Citizens for VoterID and $1.49 million for Raise the Wage Nebraska.
Eggers admitted that it was tough to find the words to tell Colton that the Nebraska medical cannabis initiative failed again.
“He asks me every single night, ‘Did we get enough signatures so I can get the medicine I need?’” Eggers said. However, she’s eager to launch a new petition drive as soon as possible.
“We’re going to regroup, we’re going to hurt and we’re going to cry and we’re going to be angry, but then we’re going to take the anger we feel today and turn it into action,” she said. “There’s no giving up.”
Eggers has at least one ally in leadership. The day after the petition drive fell short, Nebraska Senator Jen Day pledged to introduce a bill in the 2023 legislative session to legalize medical cannabis. Day nodded to some of Egger’s sentiments, specifically that failing to legalize medical cannabis will leave families without an effective way to treat chronic pain and epileptic seizures.
“We will exhaust every measure possible to get Nebraskans the medical freedom they deserve and want,” Day