Updated on November 19, 2021. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Did you know that in Nebraska, you will not go to jail in Nebraska if you are found with a small amount of cannabis? If it is your first offense, it is considered to be a civil infraction, punished by a $300 fine and a drug education course. Since lawmakers in Nebraska cannot agree about legalizing medical cannabis, advocates are collecting signatures. More than 175,000 signatures from NE residents have to be collected before July 1, 2022.
The Lancaster County Nebraska Sheriff Terry Wagner received a complaint about how he challenged and tried to block the drive to petition signatures for medical marijuana legalization.
Funds were received by Sheriff Wagner, to support his legal challenge against cannabis legalization. According to the Statement of Financial Interests, any elected officials have to report financial gifts that are over $100. The Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Committee ruled that he was not breaking the law since Sheriff Wagner did not solicit the funds or donations to his cause, he was not breaking the law.
Eligibility for the medical cannabis program in Nebraska has not been decided yet. But the other thirty-seven (37) states at the time of writing, have made medical marijuana available to patients aged eighteen years and older.
Currently, medical cannabis is not legalized in Nebraska. Cannabis remains illegal to possess and use in the state of Nebraska, pending a 2022 vote by residents. The November 2022 vote will determine whether medical cannabis will be legalized in Nebraska.
It is not confirmed, because the legislation to legalize cannabis in Nebraska has not been drafted. However, if the Constitutional amendment in NE goes through, Nebraska may adopt similar laws as neighboring states have. That would limit medical cards to patients aged eighteen (18) years or older.
How patients will apply for a medical card is to be determined, pending legalization of medical marijuana in Nebraska, in 2022.
Whether Nebraska will have a caregiver program that provides access to medicinal cannabis for minors is unknown. However, other states do provide a caregiver program allowing legal guardians to consult, purchase and administer cannabis products for a minor.
The method of registering as a caregiver for a minor or adult requiring special support is to be determined. All states that have legalized medical cannabis do provide a legal framework for caregivers to provide support.
If Nebraska follows the model of other states, the medical card will need to be renewed on an annual basis. Medical card renewals typically require an annual health evaluation from a referring physician and a fee paid to renew the medical card registration with the state. Many states provide a discount for veterans, and residents living on restricted income programs. This helps keep medical cannabis accessible for all patients, regardless of income level.
Nebraska lawmakers may decide to issue each patient a medical cannabis card. But patients might not get a card in the mail. Increasingly, states are keeping the information online and secure. It is also easier for the patient this way because their certification is online and quickly replaceable if the medical card is misplaced or stolen.
It is not known whether Nebraska will dispense cannabis through pharmacies across the state. Or whether it will license retail cannabis shops to serve patients.
It has not yet become legalized in Nebraska. However, Nebraska voters will get to decide whether to legalize cannabis or not, in the November 2022 midterm election.
August, 2020—The required number of signatures were gathered for the Nebraska Medical Marijuana Initiative. The measure was officially certified for voter ballot on August 26, 2020.
By August 28, 2020 however, Sheriff Terry Wagner from Lancaster County, Nebraska, filed a lawsuit against the ballot. Wagner argued that the ballot language addressed more than one initiative, which invalidated it. And Sheriff Terry Wagner’s legal suit also objected to authorizing medical card holders from growing their own cannabis at home. On September 10, 2020 the Nebraska Supreme Court sided with Sheriff Wagner and removed the Initiative from the November 2022 ballot.
Source Web 2021: ballotpedia.org
March, 2021—The Nebraska Medical Marijuana Initiative (NMM) was approved by a Judiciary Committee on March 30, 2021. The vote was 5-2 in favor of allowing the bill to move forward to the legislature with specific amendments.
Source Web 2021: nebraskamarijuana.org
September, 2021—The Nebraska Medical Marijuana initiative (NMM) will have to gather 175,000 signatures from voters in Nebraska before July 7, 2022. The organization is actually working on two initiatives; one to legalize medical cannabis and the second to make adult use of cannabis legal in Nebraska.
Other states like South Dakota expectedly ratified both programs at the same time, with voter endorsement. And have been required to legislate and launch both recreational and medicinal cannabis statewide programs.
Source Web 2021: nebraskamarijuana.org
The senator who introduced the new medical marijuana bill, Anna Wishart, said she never heard anyone have anything negative to say about medicinal cannabis during her campaign. Even her opponent, Dick Clark, a Republican, said the same thing. He was even in support of her bill.
Clark’s brother was bedridden for several years due to a combination of diabetes and a car accident that caused multiple fractures in his spine. According to Clark, his brother was taking as many as 11 different types of painkillers (including extremely dangerous opioids) as well as diabetes medications, leaving him so “doped” that he could barely communicate. He also said his brother’s doctors told him that he would probably suffer from liver failure due to the high number of opioids he was using.
But Clark’s brother moved to Colorado (where medical cannabis as well as recreational pot are legal) and his life turned around. He is now in such good health that he traveled to a scenic river trail and paddled 600 miles, according to Clark.
As much of a feel-good story that is, however, the hard fact remains that opposition to medical marijuana in Nebraska is as formidable as you’ll find anywhere in the country. It seems it will be a waste of time to try and change minds in the state Legislature, so a ballot initiative may be the only alternative. However, the effort it takes to get such an issue on a statewide ballot is immense, costing an estimated $1 million. Advertising the initiative would take millions more.
But if proponents are passionate enough, wiling to work hard enough and can get enough financial backing, they may finally be able to overcome the opposition and finally bring relief to patients who need the benefits of medicinal cannabis.
If LB 622 is passed, the state of Nebraska will adopt the Medical Cannabis Act.