Nebraska lawmakers launch push for medical marijuana

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Two Nebraska state senators will lead a newly formed campaign committee, Nebraskans for Sensible Marijuana Laws, for the purpose of running a 2020 ballot initiative to reform marijuana laws in Nebraska.

The committee, lead by Anna Wishart and Adam Morfeld, both of Lincoln, filed its initial paperwork with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission on Thursday morning.

According to a release, the hope of the committee is to "prioritize the right for Nebraskans to use marijuana for medical purposes."

“Today is the first step towards establishing a compassionate medical marijuana law for sick and suffering Nebraskans,” said Sen. Wishart, who has been the lead sponsor of medical marijuana bills in the last several legislative sessions. “Thirty-two states have already adopted effective medical marijuana laws, and Nebraska will soon be joining their ranks.”

“Elected officials have had their opportunity to take action and failed," said Sen. Morfeld, who helped lead the successful 2018 Medicaid Expansion ballot initiative in Nebraska. "Patients cannot wait any longer, and it’s now time for Nebraska voters to decide this issue.”

In addition to Wishart and Morfeld serving as co-chairs, the politically diverse campaign committee includes:

Elizabeth Seacrest, campaign treasurer and registered Independent;

Dexter Schrodt, campaign committee member and registered Republican;

John Cartier, campaign committee member and registered Democrat; and Matthew Schweich, deputy director for the Marijuana Policy Project, a leading national marijuana reform organization. Schweich has helped lead five successful marijuana-related ballot initiatives over the past two election cycles in Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, and Utah.

The next steps for Nebraskans for Sensible Marijuana Laws include forming steering committees, initiative drafting, fundraising, and conducting public opinion research.

State Senator Wishart is hopeful about the plan. "I'm very hopeful about the ballot initiative passing. Very hopeful. The only thing that makes me distressed is that it's more time that families and people who are ill - do not have access to people with medical marijuana."

Next week the committee plans to meet with families in Nebraska who have been pushing for medical marijuana legislation. It's possible they'll be collecting signatures as early as this spring

If the group is able to collect around 120,000 signatures of registered voters from a number of Nebraska counties the whole state would vote on it during the presidential election of 2020.

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