After legislative defeat, medical cannabis advocates regroup and rally behind 2022 ballot effort
Last update: May 17, 2021
Earlier this year, state Senator Anna Wishart introduced LB 474 to establish a medical cannabis program through the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature. Despite a strong public push from medical cannabis patients, their families, and other allies, the bill came up two votes shortof the 33 needed to overcome a filibuster in the 49-member legislative body.
Advocates for sensible marijuana laws are now initiating a 2022 ballot effort to legalize medical cannabis. Last year, the Nebraska Supreme Court issued a flawed rulingthat stripped a medical marijuana constitutional measure from the 2020 ballot, but advocates are confident that new language can avoid potential legal challenges.
Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana have submitted new constitutional petition language, and the group is ramping up its signature drive. Nebraskans who want to be part of the effort can sign up to be a volunteer signature gatherer here.
There is also discussion around an effort to legalize cannabis for adults’ use in 2022, and a separate campaign backing that effort is expected to emerge soon.
Possession is illegal in Nebraska. Possession of one ounce or less is an infraction, which is punishable by a maximum fine of $300, and the judge may order the offender to complete a drug education course. A second conviction for possession of one ounce or less is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $500, and the third and subsequent convictions for possession of one ounce or less are a misdemeanor and are punishable by a maximum sentence of seven days imprisonment and a maximum fine of $500.
Cultivation is not allowed. Cultivation penalties in Nebraska are based upon the total weight of the plants found.
There is no medical marijuana program or any other allowances for patients in Nebraska.
Decriminalization for first time possession
Nebraska is one of 31 states that does not jail first-time offenders found in possession of a small amount of cannabis. First offense possession of up to an ounce of marijuana is a civil infraction punishable under Nebraska law by a $300 fine — and a possible drug education course — instead of jail time and is a citation as opposed to an arrest. Second offense possession of up to an ounce carries a $400 fine and up to five days in jail, and third offense possession is punishable by up to a week in jail and a fine of $500. Second and third offense possession are misdemeanors, but are only citable, and not arrestable, offenses.
However, according to the ACLU, African Americans in Nebraska are nearly five times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as their white neighbors, despite similar use rates.
Contact us: Let us know if you’d like to be involved in the fight for sensible marijuana policy in Nebraska by emailing email@example.com. Please let us know if you’re a medical professional, a seriously ill patient or loved one of a patient, or someone else with a personal connection to the issue.
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