Nebraska medical marijuana legalization group wins initial court battle

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Backers of a medical marijuana referendum in Nebraska won an initial court battle that could pave the way for the measure to reach the ballot this fall.

A U.S. District Court judge decided to temporarily suspend a requirement that forces petitioners to get signatures from rural counties as well as larger cities.

The ruling is a preliminary injunction. A final decision in the case will be made later.

Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana is scrambling to collect roughly 87,000 signatures from registered voters by a July 7 deadline.

The group sued the state in federal court in May to overturn a provision in the Nebraska Constitution that requires signatures to come from at least 5% of registered voters in 38 of the 93 counties.

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The MMJ proponents claimed that the signature-distribution requirement violated the 14th Amendment by giving “disproportionate influence to voters in sparsely populated counties,” according to the Omaha World-Herald.

Separately, a recent survey by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that more than 80% of Nebraskans supported medical cannabis legalization in both 2020 and 2021.