In a vote held on Wednesday, the Nebraska Legislature voted down a bill to legalize medical marijuana in the state.
The final vote ended with 31 votes in favor and 18 votes against. Lacking the necessary 33 votes, the legislative bill has been rejected.
Under Nebraska’s medical marijuana program, smokable products would have remained illegal, patients would have been limited to possessing 2.5 grams of cannabis, and the state would have limited the number of licenses issued to a handful of dispensaries.
Medical Cannabis Will Now Be Decided by the Voters
Senator Wishart, the main sponsor of Nebraska’s medical marijuana bill, introduced the bill as a “last chance” for lawmakers to approve cannabis legislation.
“No amount of money or opposition is going to silence the people of Nebraska on this issue,” she said.
With the rejection of the legislative bill, the decision on medical cannabis legalization passes to the 2022 midterm elections, where it will be decided upon by the voters.
To this end, a ballot campaign needs to be conducted. Nebraska voters had previously succeeded in such a campaign, collecting 196,000 signatures, but this was vetoed due to a technicality in the Nebraska Supreme Court. Supporters for the bill have since fixed this technicality in the ballot campaign.
Opposition to Cannabis Reform
While Nebraska’s public may be in favor of marijuana legalization, much of the resistance against legalization comes from the state Legislature. Advocates against the legalization of medical marijuana do so as a result of the current stance held at the Federal level. Other senators, such as Thurston’s Joni Albrecht, oppose medical cannabis, due to their belief of marijuana being a gateway drug.
“I’m not going to stand here and develop a policy when I just don’t know what it’s going to do to people,” she said.
Gothenburg Senator Matt Williams stated that the constituents in his district have “sent a clear message” in opposition to marijuana legalization.
Supporters of cannabis legalization see this opposition as a sign of a legislative body that has not kept up to date with the nationwide move to legalize cannabis.
“We aren’t starting from a serious premise,” said Senator Megan Hunt of Omaha, regarding the ongoing conversations on marijuana legalization in the Nebraska Senate.
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