Nebraska medical cannabis effort fails

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Proposals to legalize medical marijuana in Nebraska will not appear on the November general election ballot after the efforts failed to collect enough signatures, the state’s top elections official said Monday.

Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen said in a news release that the Medical Cannabis Patient Protections Initiative and the Medical Cannabis Regulation Initiative failed to meet signature requirements to get either proposal on the ballot.

Each proposal needed nearly 87,000 signatures — or a total of 7% of registered voters — as well as 5% of registered voters in at least 38 of Nebraska’s 93 counties to put the proposals to a vote of the people.

The Patient Protections initiative collected 77,843 valid signatures, and the 5% threshold was met in only 26 counties, Evnen said. That proposal would have legalized the use of up to 5 ounces of marijuana for qualifying medical reasons.

The Cannabis Regulation initiative collected 77,119 signatures, and the 5% threshold was met in 27 counties. It would have legalized the possession, manufacture, distribution, delivery, and dispensing of marijuana for medical reasons and would have established a commission to regulate a state medical cannabis program.

The failure did not come as a surprise. Organizers announced in early July that they would likely miss the signature goal needed to make the November ballot, citing the death of one of the effort’s top donors. That forced organizers to rely primarily on volunteers.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and other prominent state Republican leaders have actively fought the effort to legalize medical marijuana.

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