Nebraska voters won’t get an opportunity to legalize medical marijuana this year after a state Supreme Court ruling Thursday that the measure set to appear on the November ballot is unconstitutional.
The measure would have created business opportunities to cultivate and sell medical marijuana.
The court’s ruling was a win for social conservatives, including Gov. Pete Ricketts, who argued that the state shouldn’t legalize cannabis because it isn’t approved by federal regulators.
Members of law enforcement also opposed the measure.
Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner filed the challenge to Secretary of State Bob Evnen’s initial decision that the medical marijuana initiative qualified to be on the ballot.
The Nebraska Supreme Court’s ruling came one day before the legal deadline to certify the measure for the general ballot.
Justices concluded that the medical marijuana proposal violated Nebraska’s “single-subject rule” for ballot measures, which bars activists from bunching multiple issues into a single yes-or-no question for voters to address.
Specifically, MMJ opponents took issue with provisions that would allow the use of medical marijuana and also in-state production of the products, among other issues.
“If voters are to intelligently adopt a state policy with regard to medicinal cannabis use, they must first be allowed to decide that issue alone, unencumbered by other subjects,” the court said in its opinion.
Advocates pushing for medical marijuana legalization collected more than 180,000 signatures in July.
“Our opponents are cowards,” Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement.
“They use insider political tactics because they cannot win this debate. Medical marijuana will be legal in Nebraska one day. We lost this battle, but we will undoubtedly win the war.”
– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily