As politicians across the U.S. debate medical marijuana laws and legalization for recreational purposes, a group in Nebraska is taking a different approach: forming a political party supporting medical marijuana legalization.
The group, Legal Marijuana Now Nebraska, will need to gather 6,500 signatures by Aug. 1 supporting its effort for legalized medical marijuana use and hemp production, KETV-7 in Omaha reported. The group wants to reach 8,000 signatures, noting it is also working with groups in other states, including neighboring Colorado, Iowa and Minnesota.
“We are forming the party, so that people recognize that we are looking to change something here in our state,” organizer Zach Boiko said. “The right thing is getting the medicine to the people. This petition is specifically designed for that purpose. If you don’t like recreational, that’s fine.”
Supporters said forming a political party would move their effort forward at a faster rate than the traditional route of a ballot initiative. Lawmakers in Nebraska have voted against full access to medical marijuana use in the past, with the state’s Attorney General Doug Peterson opposed to legalization for any purpose.
“The industry will make billions of dollars, they will do it on the backs of our young people, and we will have to deal with the consequences,” Peterson said last year when addressing legalization for recreational purposes.
Supporters of Legal Marijuana Now Nebraska argue electing new lawmakers could help move the issue forward.
State Sen. Tommy Garrett is also sponsoring his own medical marijuana bill, LB 643, this session. The bill argues that studies show, “the therapeutic value of cannabis in treating a wide array of debilitating medical conditions, including increasing the chances of patients finishing their treatments for HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C.”
Peterson and Gov. Pete Ricketts have indicated that they do not support the bill.