Special session proposed after Nebraska’s medical marijuana petitions fall short

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — The fight to legalize medical marijuana in Nebraska could be heading toward a special session.

State Sen. Jen Day made several posts on social media, and also emailed the Channel 8 newsroom, about what’s coming next in this highly divisive battle.

She says the first step after learning the latest initiative failed to qualify for the November ballot is to call a special session of the Legislature.

But as we just saw with the push to restrict abortions in our state, it could be extremely difficult to draw up enough support to make that happen.

Day promises that if her attempt fails, she’ll introduce legalization legislation during next year’s session.

In one post, Day says, “I know some people here, those same people that have the stranglehold on the politics in this state, wish that they could push this off forever and ever and it will never happen. But I’m here to tell you, once you get Jen Day in the fight, it’s going to happen.”

She isn’t the only one vowing to never back down.

“There are thousands of Nebraskans out there that need a safe cannabis system for medical use,” said Crista Eggers, campaign manager for Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana. “Patients with cancer, PTSD, epilepsy, and all these various different illnesses, they’re in situations that in 47 other states across the nation, there is some help with medical cannabis of some sort in those states. And because we have chosen to make Nebraska home, this isn’t an option.”

Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana told Nebraska Examiner the next petition drive may also focus on allowing recreational marijuana, in hopes of attracting bigger donations.

Opponents like the group Smart Approaches to Marijuana of Nebraska tell Channel 8 that normalizing the drug would have a negative impact on our youth.

Gov. Pete Ricketts has spoken out against it as well, saying legalization in nearby Colorado has led to increased criminal activity.

According to the Colorado Sun, DUI cases involving marijuana have spiked 120 percent, based on data from the state patrol.

But Colorado law enforcement agencies have almost doubled their number of drug recognition experts during that time.

Retired Sergeant Betsy Smith of the National Police Association says there’s a significant difference in getting medical marijuana legalized versus recreational, with the latter having bigger consequences.

“That becomes very dangerous for the public at large,” Smith said. “So as Nebraskans ponder this issue and communicate with their legislators, I would ask that people look at the entire issue and realize that this becomes a real quality of life issue for people who choose not to be involved and use cannabis.”

She believes state legislators will move forward with caution, waiting to see what the federal government does.

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