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Medical marijuana petition still going, despite pandemic

Posted at 7:47 PM, Jun 04, 2020

OMAHA, Neb.(KMTV) — It’s the petition that won’t die.

Advocates for medical marijuana have been saying for almost a year now that they’re confident they’ll get enough signatures to get on the November ballot.

In early March they announced they will have paid circulators to help the effort

But then, the COVID-19 outbreak put a damper on that, stopping the circulation for about a month and a half.

“It’s definitely a setback to not have that month and a half,” says petition organizer Dominic Gillen.

But the group is again out and about and supporters are still confident they’ll meet their goal

It’s been tough for Shelley and Dominic Gillen. They’ve had to stay home, not helping to circulate the petition that helps them get drugs they say their son Will needs.

“That gives us a chance to trial and error different strains for Will to see what is successful for him and what isn’t,” says Shelley Gillen.

The group Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana is trying to gather around 130,000 signatures, needing one-tenth of the registered voters in the state to sign.

If they get enough, Nebraskans will be able to vote in November whether they want medical marijuana statewide.

The Gillens are pushing the petition because their son Will suffers from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy.

If the initiative fails, they don’t know what they’ll do.

“We’re left with choices that you shouldn’t be left with, to be able to treat your child and that’s either picking up and moving or becoming a criminal,” says Shelley Gillen.

There is a renewed hope it can get on the ballot. Paid circulators, along with volunteers, are back outside, trying to get enough signatures before the July 3rd deadline.

State senator Anna Wishart, who’s spearheaded the bill in the legislature and the petition drive told me nothing is guaranteed but she’s confident.

The Gillens share her enthusiasm.

“We feel very positive about it, the signature gathering is right on target for the numbers that they need,” says Shelley Gillen.

Since circulators can’t go to large events, Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana have a tool on their Facebook page that shows specific locations where you can sign the petition.

But Governor Pete Ricketts seemed to discourage the effort last week.

“My concern about the petition gathering is those circulators will circulate the virus,” says Ricketts.

Ricketts says the petition process can take a while and gives both people many chances to spread the virus.

“I would be really cautious about interfacing with any of those people. If they’re going to your house, they’re going to the person next door, the person next door, that’s just a way to circulate the virus around your neighborhood,” says Ricketts.

The Gillens say they’re taking precautions, and that Nebraskans can get through the process quickly and safely.

“That takes 30 seconds to read it, so we can easily follow all the social distancing guidelines, if people don’t feel comfortable, they won’t come and sign it,” says Shelley Gillen.