Nebraska: Supreme Court Invalidates 2020 Medical Marijuana Initiative

Omaha, NE: A statewide initiative that sought to regulate the production and dispensing of medical marijuana to qualified patients will not appear on the November ballot, following a state Supreme Court ruling.

The Nebraska Supreme Court issued an opinion late last week finding that the initiative’s language violated the state’s single subject rule requirement. The 5 to 2 ruling followed a last-minute legal challenge by a local sheriff that was filed only after the Secretary of State had determined that proponents had met qualifications to place the issue on the November ballot. The Secretary of State had previously rejected the petitioner’s legal argument, but that decision was appealed to the Supreme Court.

The majority of justices opined, “As proposed, the NMCCA [Nebraska Medical Cannabis Constitutional Amendment] contains more than one subject–by our count, it contains at least eight subjects. 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. We issue a writ of mandamus directing him to withhold the NMCCA from the November 2020 general election ballot.”

In response to the ruling, Initiative proponents Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana said: “[T]his 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.”

Commenting on the court’s decision, NORML State Policies Coordinator Carly Wolf said, “It’s extremely disappointing that Nebraskans with debilitating conditions will continue to be denied access to a therapeutic treatment that could provide significant benefits. 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change, which I hope will propel state lawmakers to take action next year and approve legislation to reform Nebraska’s outdated and unjust marijuana policies.”

Voters in Mississippi and South Dakota will decide this November on medicalization ballot measures. Voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota will decide on adult-use ballot initiatives.

For more information, visit Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana. Information on other 2020 ballot measures is available from NORML Election Central.