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Election 2020: Nebraska medical marijuana legalization guide

Published on July 29, 2020 · Last updated September 10, 2020
Nebraska voters will consider the state's first try at medical cannabis legalization in Nov. 2020. (Illustration: Joshua Titus for Leafly)

BREAKING UPDATE, Sept 10: Nebraska high court kills 2020 medical marijuana legalization measure 

In a devastating ruling for patients and advocates, the Nebraska Supreme Court has removed the Nebraska Medical Cannabis Constitutional Amendment from the Nov. 3, 2020 ballot. The court ruled that the amendment did not meet the strict rules for a voter-initiated measure required by state law. More on this soon.

Nebraska Medical Cannabis Constitutional Amendment

Read the full proposal here: Nebraska Medical Cannabis Constitutional Amendment

Medical or adult use?


What’s the latest news?

Nebraska advocates fight to keep medical marijuana on Nov. 3 ballot

What the Nebraska Medical Cannabis Constitutional Amendment would do

The ballot measure would permit individuals 18 years or older (and minors, too, with a parent of guardian’s consent) to obtain a recommendation from a physician or nurse practitioner for the use of medical cannabis to treat a serious medical condition.

The proposed amendment to the state constitution would legalize the sale and use of medical marijuana, and authorize the state government to develop laws, rules, and regulations to govern the industry.

What the latest polls say

A Feb. 2017 poll found that 77% of eligible Nebraska voters were in favor of legalizing medical marijuana for patients with serious or debilitating conditions (Fairbank/MPP poll).

Legalization initiative supporters

  • Sen. Adam Morfeld (D-46)
  • Sen. Anna Wishart (D-27)
  • Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana
  • Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)
  • New Approach PAC

Legalization initiative opponents

  • No official opponent groups have formed yet
  • Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) is extremely prohibitionist-minded

Would dispensaries be licensed?

Yes, but details are sparse at this time. The initiative states: “This subsection shall not prevent the expeditious licensing and reasonable regulation of [growers, manufacturers, etc]. Such regulation and licensing shall not impose an undue burden on the ability of individuals authorized to use cannabis as provided in this section to access the type and quantity of cannabis, cannabis products, and cannabis-related equipment they need.

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Would medical marijuana be taxed?


Two things to know about the Nebraska Medical Cannabis Constitutional Amendment

  • The initiative does not allow for public consumption, nor does it allow for impaired driving under the influence of medical cannabis.
  • The initiative would allow employers to restrict an employee from working while impaired by medical cannabis.

Current cannabis law in Nebraska

According to the Marijuana Policy Project, this is the state of affairs in the Corn Husker state:

“Possession is currently 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.”

Quotes from legalization advocates

  • “This new economic growth and revenue to our communities could be used to fund roads and bridges, support education and reduce taxes. Once the ballot measure passes, we will work with the Nebraska Legislature to ensure the positive economic impact from medical cannabis will help reduce excessive property taxes.” former State Sen. Tommy Garrett (R)
  • “We are quickly being surrounded by states that have sensible laws on medical marijuana, and we do not. A lot of Nebraskans are looking to other states—to Utah and Missouri—and saying, ‘Wow, these are also conservative states and they have much more reasonable policies about this than we do.’” State Sen. Adam Morfeld (D)

Quotes from legalization opponents

  • “Marijuana is an illegal drug according to federal law. It’s illegal because medical experts have determined, on the basis of solid scientific evidence, that the drug is harmful.  It’s also illegal because public officials have recognized the social costs and dangers of marijuana use…I firmly oppose legislative legalization and will veto any legislation that attempts to make marijuana use lawful in the Cornhusker State.” Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts
  • “If there is medical evidence to support the use of cannabis for treatment purposes, then the appropriate method is to seek F.D.A. approval… Any efforts to advance medical marijuana must be led by medical science and not the industry or politicians.” Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson

Register to vote and donate to Nebraska’s legalization initiative

Support Nebraska’s legalization initiative by donating to Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana.

Read more about Nebraska on Leafly

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Max Savage Levenson
Max Savage Levenson
Max Savage Levenson likely has the lowest cannabis tolerance of any writer on the cannabis beat. He also writes about music for Pitchfork, Bandcamp and other bespectacled folk. He co-hosts The Hash podcast. His dream interview is Tyler the Creator.
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