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Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana struggling to garner enough signatures without paid petitioners

Posted at 6:16 PM, Jul 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-05 19:16:54-04

OMAHA, Neb (KMTV) — It takes a lot to bring a ballot initiative to the voters.

It requires at least 10% of registered Nebraska voters to sign a petition, which is well over 100,000 signatures.

You can’t just leave the petition around for folks to sign, someone has to go collect those signatures.

“This is an entirely volunteer effort. A lot of the people that are out there today collecting and volunteering across the state are people who have kids with epilepsy, people who are battling cancer,” said Sen. Anna Wishart, who has helped lead the 2020 and 2022 medical marijuana ballot initiatives.

Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana is in the final stretch of its all-volunteer 2022 petition drive.

The group is fighting an uphill battle trying to gather enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, a big change from their 2020 campaign which saw the group collect almost 60,000 more signatures than was required.

One key difference between the two campaigns has been funding.

“I don’t think there was ever an expectation that the people who are circulating petitions be paid, but it has certainly become a situation where those that use paid circulators have a much better chance at success,” said Randall Adkins.

In 2020 Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana had the financial backing to bring in paid circulators to gather enough signatures, something they lacked in 2022 after the tragic death of one of their major donors.

It seems like an unfair situation for a group that has already run a successful campaign in the past, but Adkins said it's unfortunately business as usual when it comes to politics.

“It's just a fact of life in understanding modern campaign in elections, it's just a reality. Having professionals work in your campaign improves the reliability of what you are doing,” said Adkins.

It still remains to be seen whether the lack of paid petitioners will be the difference between success and failure for Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, which will need to gather tens of thousands of signatures before their Thursday deadline.

“I haven’t counted anything yet because I have been out circulating, so I would say we need another 20,000 on each petition to come in the next three days for us to feel confident we have enough signatures to turn in to the Secretary of State,” said Wishart.

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