Nebraska Supreme Court deems medical cannabis initiative ineligible for ballot this November

Sep 11, 2020

It looks like the fast-moving legalization of cannabis hit a snag this week as the Nebraska State Supreme Court ruled that a ballot initiative set for November doesn’t meet state requirements, thus invalidating it and removing it from the ballot. According to a statement released by NORML on Thursday, the court found that the Nebraska initiative “violated the state’s single subject rule requirement.”

The court ruled 5 to 2 to remove the initiative from the ballot this November. Their ruling followed a last-minute challenge from a local sheriff, according to NORML, which came after the Secretary of State affirmed that activists supporting the measure had met the necessary requirements to place it on the ballot in the first place. As per NORML’s statement, Nebraska’s Secretary of State had initially rejected the measure. However, that ruling was appealed to the state Supreme Court.

“As proposed, the NMCCA contains more than one subject–by our count, it contains at least eight subjects,” noted the Nebraska Supreme 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.”

“The decision of the Secretary of State is reversed,” the Court continued. “We issue a writ of mandamus directing him to withhold the NMCCA from the November 2020 general election ballot.”

In response, the group behind the ballot initiative, Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, issued a statement on their Facebook page, noting their displeasure with the court’s decision. However, they vowed to continue to press on with the fight for legalization.

“We just heard and the news is not good,” read the statement. “Like all of you, we are absolutely devastated by the Supreme Court ruling. 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 stepped into the fray too, calling the court’s decision disappointing.

“It’s extremely disappointing that Nebraskans with debilitating conditions will continue to be denied access to a therapeutic treatment that could provide significant benefits,” said NORML State Policies Coordinator Carly Wolf. “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.”

According to NORML’s statement on the matter, over 182,000 signatures were gathered by Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana this summer to support the ballot initiative. It would have amended “the Nebraska Constitution to provide the right to use, possess, access, and safely produce cannabis, and cannabis products and materials, for serious medical conditions as recommended by a physician or nurse practitioner.” 

With Nebraska no longer voting this November, that leaves Mississippi and South Dakota voting on medical marijuana initiatives, and New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota to vote on recreational ballots.

(Header Image: Facebook)

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