The State of Medical Marijuana in Nebraska
2020 Grade: F
2019-2020 Improvements and Recommendations
Frustrated by a lack of access, Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana organized a 2020 medical access ballot initiative that is expected to go before voters in November. While Governor Ricketts is opposing the initiative, ASA encourages Nebraska lawmakers to engage with patients and medical cannabis advocacy organizations to build a safe and legal access model for patients in 2021. Cannabis patients require the same level of sufficient access to cannabis medicine as patients of pharmaceutical products do to pharmacies, and Nebraska patients need their state lawmakers to act to organize such a system.
Beyond authorizing the creation of a production, manufacturing, testing and medical retail system for patients to access, Nebraska should also consider organizing legal safeguards for patients to preserve employment, housing and parental rights for qualified patients. Finally Nebraska should weigh allowing patients to cultivate medical cannabis at home to help reduce patient costs and improve ease of access.
Cannabis was decriminalized for first-time offenders in Nebraska in 1979, with possession of one ounce or less punishable by a $300 fine. However increased fines and levels of criminal offense classifications as well as jail time can result for subsequent possession of larger volumes of cannabis. Beyond these laws Nebraska has organized no cannabis policy reform improvements to provide patients with safe and legal access, or organize associated affirmative defense laws to protect patients.
In 2014, Nebraska and Oklahoma filed suit against Colorado, arguing that Colorado’s authorization of adult-use cannabis access in 2012 was leading to cross-border business practices occurring affecting surrounding states. The suit’s aim to strike down key provisions of the 2012 Colorado law was unsuccessful, with the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016 declining to hear Nebraska and Oklahoma’s case by a 6-2 margin. Several legislative attempts to organize a fully functional legal medical cannabis access and licensing regime have been introduced in the Cornhusker state, however these measures have failed to secure sufficient support to get to the Governor’s desk.
Surveyed patients report frustration that medical cannabis is still illegal in Nebraska.