With Supreme Court Guidance - Medical Cannabis Advocates File New Constitutional Amendment Language for 2022

Ballot committee that submitted almost 200,000 signatures for 2020 ballot initiative uses Supreme Court roadmap for single subject

LINCOLN, NE – This afternoon at 1pm, Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana will file new petition language with Secretary of State Robert Evnen that the committee intends to qualify for the November 2022 ballot in Nebraska. The new initiative is co-sponsored by State Senators Anna Wishart and Adam Morfeld, co-chairs of Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana. The new language filed today simply and singularly states:

Persons in the State of Nebraska shall have the right to cannabis in all its forms for medical purposes.”

After carefully reviewing the opinion from the five Supreme Court judges who ruled to remove the 2020 initiative from the ballot, Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana decided to take the route of the successful effort of casino gaming supporters and file a simple, one-sentence constitutional right that will then be followed with trailing statutory initiatives to set up a safe and secure medical cannabis system in Nebraska. 

“Families with loved ones suffering from conditions like epilepsy, PTSD, Parkinson’s, and cancer have fought for years to make medical cannabis safely accessible in our state as it is in 33 other states,” stated State Senator Anna Wishart, Co-Chair of Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana. “This year over 190,000 Nebraskans successfully petitioned our government during a pandemic for that right, and despite receiving qualification from the Secretary of State, our initiative was removed from the ballot by a 5-2 vote from Nebraska’s Supreme Court. We will not give up and intend to bring this fight to the legislature in January with a bill that I will introduce and to the ballot in 2022.” 

In early September, the Nebraska Supreme Court removed the 2020 medical cannabis initiative from the ballot, ruling that the initiative did not meet the single subject requirement for ballot initiatives. Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana now seeks to follow the path taken by the campaign to legalize casino gaming, which succeeded in qualifying three separate initiatives — one constitutional and two statutory — for the 2020 ballot.  The constitutional initiative is filed today and the statutory initiatives will be filed in 2021 if the Legislature does not pass a bill Senator Wishart will be introducing in January. 

Barry Rubin, who spearheaded the 2020 signature drive and will run the 2022 initiative signature collection effort, commented, “This constitutional language filed today is irrefutable from a single-subject standpoint. In consultation with several well-regarded Nebraska attorneys, legal scholars, and a former Nebraska Supreme Court justice, we’re confident this language cannot be rejected no matter what type of legal and political gymnastics the Court decides to play.”

State Senator Adam Morfeld (LD-46), co-chair of Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana and co-sponsor of the new 2022 initiative, added, “After following the Supreme Court’s previous case law the first time, we will follow their most recent precedent again by filing language that is one sentence. Our new petition language indisputably presents a single subject and makes medical cannabis a constitutional right. Then following with several statutory initiatives, we will establish a safe and regulated medical cannabis system. Nebraskans have a constitutional right to petition their government, and we will not stop until they can exercise their right and have their voices heard on medical cannabis.”

Since last year, Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana recruited thousands of volunteers and signers throughout the state that represent a diversity of voices in Nebraska. An internal data analysis of signatures submitted in 2020 included almost equal numbers of registered Republicans, Democrats and Independents — from all age groups — and from all 93 of Nebraska’s counties. 

In the coming weeks, Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana will roll out an aggressive campaign to circulate this new petition and educate the public about medical cannabis.