The Supreme Court of Nebraska ruled last Thursday that the initiative to legalize cannabis for medical use could not appear in next November’s referendum.
Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, the group behind the initiative, had submitted enough signatures to qualify the measure. Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner, however, filed an appeal against the secretary of state’s office last month, claiming the proposal violates the state’s single issue rule for voting initiatives and would confuse voters.
While the state rejected this argument, the local police officers then took the matter to court. Plaintiff’s counsel argued that the measure’s various provisions on patient access, retailing, and distribution were multiple issues that a single voting initiative could not legally cover. The court issued its final opinion on Thursday and ruled that the proposal ultimately violated the single issue rule and could not proceed to a vote.
As proposed, [the Nebraska Medical Cannabis Constitutional Amendment] contains more than one issue – by our calculations, it contains at least eight issues,” the court concluded:
Beyond establishing the right of certain persons to produce and use cannabis for medical purposes in our constitution under subsections (1) and (2), subsections (3) and (4), the NMCCA would enshrine a right and immunity for entities to cultivate and sell cannabis. And subsections (6), (7), and (8), it regulated the role of cannabis in at least six areas of public life.
If voters are to adopt an intelligent state policy on the use of medicinal cannabis, they must first be allowed to decide this issue alone, unimpeded by other issues,” the judges wrote.
Nothing changes the fact that an overwhelming majority of Nebraskans stand with patients and families who deserve compassion and safe access to medical cannabis,” said the campaign in a Facebook post. “We’ll be in touch with you soon and let you know our plans for our next steps.
The group finally announced the same initiative in 2022.