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The governor of Nebraska is working with a group of prohibitionists to fight back against medical marijuana


The Republican governor of Nebraska is working with a chapter of the country’s leading marijuana prohibitionist group to run ads urging residents to oppose cannabis reform in the state.

Governor Pete Ricketts (R) was featured in a 30-second ad paid for by SAM Nebraska, a subsidiary of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, that aired on local television last week. He argues that marijuana has no medicinal value and that the industry is using the problem as a Trojan horse to ultimately enforce legalization of adult use.

It is doing so because advocates of legalization are stepping up their reform push by circulating two medicinal cannabis reform initiatives that they want to table to voters for the 2022 ballot. Medical marijuana Nebraskans have until July to collect 87,000 valid signatures to qualify for each of their ancillary activities.

Ricketts apparently wants to be one step ahead on the subject.

“The only difference between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana is the choice of words,” the governor said in the new ad. “Doctors cannot prescribe it and pharmacists cannot offer it because it is not a drug.”

“Today the marijuana industry is targeting Nebraska. And the real goal is to legalize recreational marijuana across the state, ”he said. “We saw what happens when progressive politics trumps science and common sense. That can’t happen. It is up to us to protect our children and defend our communities. Big Marijuana’s way is the wrong way for Nebraska. “

While the ad ignores the political reality that there is strong bipartisan support for medical cannabis, the governor’s topics of conversation are at least milder than his remarks in May when he said marijuana is “a dangerous drug that will affect our children.” “And” If you legalize marijuana, you will kill your children. “

Senator Adam Morfeld, D, a co-chair of Nebraskan’s medical marijuana pro-reform group, beat Ricketts for “placing $ 500,000 in medical marijuana ads across the state” and tweeted that he assumed that the governor is taking steps to ensure that the 2022 elections are “a referendum on marijuana”.

Quick Google search results on Pete: pic.twitter.com/MCM5HN20vr

– State Senator Adam Morfeld (@Adam_Morfeld) December 5, 2021

Morfeld told Marijuana Moment that “no amount of money will change the fact that over 70 percent of Nebraskans across the political spectrum are in favor of medical marijuana legalization.”

I assume he plans that the 2022 general election will be a referendum on marijuana.

– State Senator Adam Morfeld (@Adam_Morfeld) December 5, 2021

Senator Anna Wishart (D), who is also co-chair of the group, said in a statement that “No amount of negative publicity or dark money spent on our campaign is the base of Nebraskan support for this problem outweighs our entire state ”. who come from all walks of life and from every political party. “

“Those of you who care about this matter hold your eyes up; We will not stop our efforts until we have a safe, compassionate, and healthy medical cannabis system in our state, ”she said. “Now let’s collect a few signatures!”

Luke Niforatos, executive vice president of SAM, confirmed to Marijuana Moment that the organization’s Nebraska subsidiary is spending six figures on the advertising campaign, which also features two separate spots with medical professionals and law enforcement agencies raising concerns about cannabis.

A political consultancy that makes ad purchases and stores the fcc in their “Political Files”. But as long as you tick the box on a NAB form, it’s nananabooboo … doesn’t count. pic.twitter.com/eAG2AwuGv2

– TimmyPowershell (@TimmySQL) December 5, 2021

Medical marijuana Nebraskans behind the two reform election initiatives emailed supporters about the opposition’s new ads.

“If these ads make you angry, that’s what they should do. The content is dishonest and disrespectful to the grassroots families and patient advocates who lead this movement for compassionate cannabis laws, ”they wrote. “It is clear that the anti-cannabis extremists – many from groups that exist outside of Nebraska – will stop at nothing to prevent us from establishing a system of safe, legal access to medical cannabis.

The 2022 vote is not the first time Nebraskans have pushed for medical marijuana reform despite opposition from the governor.

Activists collected enough signatures to qualify a medical marijuana legalization measure for the 2020 vote, but the state Supreme Court invalidated it and found the proposal violated the one-issue rule for citizens’ groups.

For this reason, the campaign has deliberately opted for a two-part approach this time, with additional proposals for reform in order to avoid such a legal challenge.

One of the legislative initiatives would provide legal protection for patients and doctors around cannabis, while the other private company would enable the manufacture and sale of medical marijuana products.

Legislators tried to push medical cannabis reform this year, but while unicameral lawmakers debated a bill to legalize medical marijuana in May, they couldn’t get past a filibuster because the corporation didn’t have enough votes to support it to overcome.

Morfeld and Wishart announced last December that they would also work to bring the issue of legalizing marijuana for adult use to voters in 2022. For now, however, their focus seems to be on the medical cannabis effort.

For all it’s worth, the Nebraska attorney general argued in a 2019 statement that efforts to legalize medical marijuana in the state would be anticipated by federal law and “would therefore be unconstitutional.”

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Photo courtesy Philip Steffan.

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