A different political tactic is being taken by local marijuana supporters.
Rather than mount a challenging petition drive to put the issue in front of voters, they’re attempting to form a new political party.
“Some medications just don’t work,” medical marijuana supporter Frank Riojas said.
Riojas said he’s had family members leave the state for treatment.
“There’s a lot of cancer in my family,” he said.
“My grandmother actually died from cancer and I feel like medical marijuana would’ve helped her,” medical marijuana supporter Brian Lett said.
It’s much easier and takes only a fraction of the signatures needed for a ballot initiative.
Members told KETV NewsWatch 7 Sunday afternoon that this is not about recreational use; just medical marijuana and hemp production.
The group called Legal Marijuana Now Nebraska said it needs 6,500 signatures, but the hope is for at least 8,000 by the Aug. 1 deadline.
“That’s why 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.”
“It’s really another option to the two-party system,” Krystal Gabel, another member, said. “We are collaborating with other states: Colorado, Minnesota and Iowa. We aren’t just here in Nebraska.”
They believe a new political party could push their agenda faster in both Iowa and Nebraska. The primary goal is legalizing medical marijuana, followed by hemp production.
“Having people in office that support hemp legalization in addition to marijuana legalization, that means jobs and industry in Nebraska,” Gabel said. “Let’s make our products here. Let’s bring jobs to north Omaha and south Omaha.”
Since a majority of state lawmakers keep voting against full access to medical marijuana, trying to elect new lawmakers is the next logical move.
“That’s why we are forming the party — so that people recognize that we are looking to change something here in our state,” Boiko said.
Sen. Tommy Garrett from Bellevue is pushing his medical marijuana bill this session. It doesn’t allow smoking the drug. Both Gov. Pete Ricketts and Attorney General Doug Peterson oppose the bill.