Nebraska Supreme Court Strikes Down Medicinal Cannabis Ballot Initiative

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Image: Katherine Welles / Shutterstock.com

LINCOLN, Neb. – A statewide ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana has been ruled unconstitutional by the Nebraska Supreme Court. Residents in the state will not be afforded the opportunity to vote on the matter this November as previously reported.

“As proposed, the [Nebraska Medical Cannabis Constitutional Amendment] contains more than one subject–by our count, it contains at least eight subjects,” the court said in its decision. “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… The decision of the Secretary of State is reversed. We issue a writ of mandamus directing him to withhold the NMCCA from the November 2020 general election ballot.”

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The NMCCA initiative was the result of campaigning efforts by cannabis advocacy group Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana which submitted approximately 182,000 signatures from residents to put the legalization of medicinal cannabis use to voters. Nebraska Secretary of State Robert B. Evnen approved the initiative, though he did indicate that he was unsure if state courts would uphold his decision. 

Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana issued a statement in response to the court’s decision.

“We are absolutely devastated by the Supreme Court ruling,” the organization said. “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.”

NORML also responded to the Nebraska Supreme Court decision.

“It’s extremely disappointing that Nebraskans with debilitating conditions will continue to be denied access to a therapeutic treatment that could provide significant benefits,” NORML State Policies Coordinator Carly Wolf said. “An overwhelming majority of Nebraskans support this policy change, which I hope will propel state lawmakers to take action next year and approve legislation to reform Nebraska’s outdated and unjust marijuana policies.”

If the initiative went to the polls and was ultimately approved by Nebraska voters, adults 18 years and older with a qualifying medical condition would be permitted to legally use, possess, and purchase cannabis. Minors with a qualifying condition and parental approval also would be eligible. The initiative would have also given Nebraska lawmakers the authority to regulate the state’s medicinal cannabis program.

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