Initiative switches to ‘grassroots’ effort, needs to collect about 87,000 valid signatures on two petitions by July 7
LINCOLN — Unable to raise $1 million to replace funds from a major donor who died, Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana issued a plea Friday for supporters of the cause to take up petitions and gather signatures.
State Sens. Anna Wishart and Adam Morfeld said that without funds to hire paid petition circulators — the traditional route for initiative petition drives — volunteers will have to step up in a totally grassroots, “untraditional” effort.
“This is going to require all hands on deck,” Morfeld said.
“We have to totally flip the script,” said Wishart.
July 7 deadline
The medical marijuana effort needs to collect about 87,000 valid signatures of voters statewide by a July 7 deadline, as well as signatures of at least 5% of registered voters in 38 of the state’s 93 counties.
Crista Eggers, the statewide coordinator for the initiative, said the effort has gathered about 25,000 signatures for each of its two petitions so far but needs another 100,000 for each to provide enough cushion to offset some signatures that may be invalidated. She said the group has 500 volunteers, thus far, who are distributing petitions.
Two years ago, Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana collected more than enough signatures to qualify for the 2020 ballot using paid circulators. But the Nebraska Supreme Court disqualified the initiative, saying the petition violated the state’s “single-subject” rule for such ballot issues. That led the legalization group to pass two petitions this year.
80% support for issue
Wishart said she thinks an all-grassroots effort can succeed because the medical marijuana group’s polling indicates 80% support for legalizing medical cannabis in the state.
She called the support “unprecedented” given the political divides in the U.S. now.
In a video news conference with reporters Friday, Wishart, Morfeld and Eggers, who has a son with severe epilepsy, laid out the strategy for gathering enough signatures by the July 7 deadline. They ask supporters to:
- Go to one of the 100 businesses across Nebraska that are gathering signatures and sign the petitions. A list can be found on the website: Nebraskamarijuana.org
- Gather small donations from Nebraskans, on a recurring basis. If enough donations come in, organizers said that some paid circulators will be hired.
- Sign up to commit to gather 50 signatures by June 1.
- “Adopt a county” to gather the required signatures there. Wishart said she and a girlfriend gathered the 300 signatures needed in Hamilton County in 2020.
- Gather signatures at events, such as the College World Series, local farmers markets and concerts.
- Consider hosting a drive-through signature drive.
Wishart said those fighting to legalize cannabis for medical use have “gone too far” to give up, given the loss of financial backing.
As of February, 37 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical uses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Nebraska Examiner is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nebraska Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Cate Folsom for questions: [email protected] Follow Nebraska Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.
- Minnesota’s Black cannabis users far more likely to face arrest than white onesBlack Minnesotans are nearly five times as likely to be arrested on marijuana charges as white ones, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. It’s a disparity that has persisted for years, despite data showing that Black and white residents use cannabis at similar rates.
- Lawmakers ask MO governor to add cannabis legalization in special sessionA bipartisan group of lawmakers and activists are calling for Missouri Gov. Mike Parson to include marijuana legalization on the agenda of the legislature’s upcoming special session.
- In Brief: Pa. Governor Accepting Cannabis Pardon Requests in Sept.Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman announce the PA Marijuana Pardon Program, offering expedited pardon reviews to people convicted of only minor cannabis possession for personal use.
- Michigan State Police stops cannabis testing after false positivesMichigan State Police have acknowledged that its blood tests for marijuana are producing false positives for THC, and it will immediately halt testing.
- Missouri Dems expect boost from cannabis, but split on specificsSupport for legalization and heartburn about the amendment’s details have led to soul-searching among Democratic Party officials across the state. The consternation is particularly acute among Black Democratic leaders.
- Signatures on Nebraska medical cannabis petitions to get another lookThe Nebraska Secretary of State’s Office has agreed to take another look at signatures submitted by a group seeking legalization of medical marijuana to determine if they should have been counted.
- Nebraska senator pledges to seek special session to legalize medical cannabisAdvocates for legalization of medical marijuana were pursuing a trio of options Tuesday after their attempt at qualifying the issue for the November ballot fell short.
- Adult-use cannabis unlikely to be on Oklahoma ballot in NovemberThe Yes on 820 campaign faces several obstacles in the last part of its journey to the ballot as another challenge period will last at least 10 business days and the state Election Board needs time to print ballots for overseas voters.
- Lawsuit asks to block cannabis legalization from Missouri ballotAn anti-drug legalization activist has filed a lawsuit arguing a recreational marijuana initiative petition was improperly certified by Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and should not appear on the November ballot.
- Cannabis legalization advocates turn THC customers into political alliesNow that Minnesota has legalized hemp-derived THC products as of July 1, proponents of full legalization are activating a new resource in the political battle over the green plant’s future: customers.