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Next step for medical cannabis in Nebraska: a ballot initiative

Posted at 10:44 PM, May 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-17 23:44:41-04

BELLEVUE, Neb. (KMTV) — BELLEVUE, Neb. (KMTV) — In Lincoln earlier this week, senators who support medical marijuana warned lawmakers of what could happen if they don't pass medicinal cannabis in the legislature.

"It's going to be the best opportunity that you get to bring a true medical marijuana system before we put it into the constitution. If that's the option you want, then that's fine, then you're in my world and it's much less reasonable,” says Adam Morfeld, state senator from Lincoln.

Nothing was passed this week and it doesn't appear like it will happen. Still, opponents of medical pot aren't worried about a possible petition drive.

"We have been urged strongly that if we do not vote for this bill they will bring the referendum. Don't believe it,” says John Lowe. state senator from Kearney.

Well, it appears it's on the way.

Shelley Gillen has been fighting for half a decade to get medical cannabis for her son Will, who has Lennox Gastaut syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy that causes multiple seizures a day and forces him to wear a helmet for his safety.

She says she's already gathered some signatures and will really ramp things up over the next three months.

"We're just going to continue with that until we collect all of them,” says Gillen.

To get medical marijuana on the ballot, they need to collect signatures from 10 percent of the 1.2 million-plus registered voters in the state. Plus they need five percent of voters from 38 of the 93 counties in Nebraska to sign on.

They must do all this and send it in by July 3rd of 2020.

"We are very confident, we are just absolutely positive in that we will gather the 150,000 signatures, getting on the ballot and passing,” says Gillen.

The bill in the legislature, would not have allowed cannabis to be smoked or consumed in edibles. Instead, it would only be allowed in to be consumed by oil, or something similar.

Plus it would have only allowed people with very serious and specific medical conditions to get prescribed the drug.

Gillen says that would have worked for her son but she thinks the ballot initiative will leave fewer suffering Nebraskans behind.

"For Will it would have, but for many people it would not have so we're actually in a better position with the ballot initiative because it will be able to help more people but of course that means that Will has to wait longer,” says Gillen.

Senator Anna Wishart responded to a text yesterday saying to expect a full launch of the petition drive campaign in the few weeks.