A bid to get a medical cannabis proposal on the Nebraska ballot this year officially came up short on Monday.
Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana said that the Secretary of State Bob Evnen “announced that our effort to relieve the pain of so many suffering Nebraskans did not meet the minimum qualifications of verified signatures to end up on the November ballot.”
“To say we are devastated would be an understatement,” the campaign said in an announcement on Facebook. “Suffering Nebraskans should never be faced with having to move themselves or their families out of the state they call home just to have access to health care.”
The group turned in more than 184,000 signatures to the Nebraska secretary of state’s office last month, less than an hour before the deadline for submission.
In fact, Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana pursued what it described as “two complementary initiatives” for the state ballot: the Patient Protection Act would have enshrined protections for patients with “serious health conditions and their caregivers from arrest for the use of medical cannabis as recommended by a health care provider,” while the Medical Cannabis Regulation Act would have established “the Nebraska Medical Cannabis Commission to regulate private businesses that provide medical cannabis to qualified patients.”
Neither will be on the Cornhusker State’s ballot this November.
The Associated Press reports: “Each proposal needed nearly 87,000 signatures — or a total of 7% of registered voters — as well as 5% of registered voters in at least 38 of Nebraska’s 93 counties to put the proposals to a vote of the people. The Patient Protections initiative collected 77,843 valid signatures, and the 5% threshold was met in only 26 counties, Evnen said. That proposal would have legalized the use of up to 5 ounces of marijuana for qualifying medical reasons. The Cannabis Regulation initiative collected 77,119 signatures, and the 5% threshold was met in 27 counties. It would have legalized the possession, manufacture, distribution, delivery, and dispensing of marijuana for medical reasons and would have established a commission to regulate a state medical cannabis program.”
The news on Monday marks an expected conclusion to what has been a turbulent campaign for Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana.
In March, the group said it was scrambling for donations after two individuals who were expected to be major contributors were unable to support the campaign due to extenuating circumstances.
“I’d say devastating is an understatement,” Crista Eggers, one of the group’s spokespeople and leaders, said at the time. “We’re pleading with you to help.”
“If what we needed was grit, and drive, and determination, we have that,” Eggers added. “Our campaign would be done and over if that’s what we needed. But unfortunately, the one thing our campaign doesn’t have – and has to have – is money.”
Eggers was involved in the campaign for personal reasons: her son, Colton, has epilepsy but can’t receive medical cannabis treatment in their home state.
“We’ve received so much encouragement from individuals all across the state, who support the many patients like our son Colton, who desperately need access to this medicine. No matter what your political background is, we should all agree that criminalizing a medicine that has the potential to alleviate suffering, is both cruel and inhumane,” Eggers said during the campaign launch last year. “The current policy doesn’t reflect our family values here in Nebraska, and we’re going to change that. We need everyone who believes in compassion for suffering individuals like my son to be part of this movement and help us win in 2022.”
Despite the fundraising setback, Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana managed to round up thousands of signatures and submit its petitions just before the deadline last month, which the group hailed as a testament to the organizers’ resilience.
But that feeling of triumph was short-lived. Now, Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana says it’s setting its sights on 2024.
“When we receive the results from the Secretary of State’s office, we will analyze the data and then we will immediately get to work on qualifying for the 2024 ballot,” the group said on Monday.