Without a doubt, Nebraska knows fun. After all, how could a state that’s home to the National Museum of Roller Skating not know fun? Or that it has the largest indoor rainforest (actually sounds pretty cool) in the United States? While you, dear reader, may doubt just how truly enjoyable the state of Nebraska is, allow me to offer this Hail Mary. Nebraska is home not only to the above listed, but wild growing marijuana, and a decriminalized approach to marijuana possession. Full-blown legal weed in Nebraska might be a while away though.
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Nebraska’s Weed Laws
So as not to create confusion, weed is not legal in the state of Nebraska. They do however take an approach that is along the lines of decriminalization. Nebraska’s decriminalization for small amounts took place in 1979. Possession of 1 Oz or less on a first offense is considered only a civil infraction with up to a $300 fine. Second and third offenses of the same sizes are considered a misdemeanor and carry up to $500 in fines as well as up to a week in prison. Larger amounts carry harsher penalties with possession of more than 1 lb being considered a felony and carrying 5 years prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
Medical Weed In Nebraska
In a turnaround from the arguably progressive (at least for 1979) partial decriminalization of marijuana, Nebraska does not have a medical program. No medicinal marijuana, no CBD oil, nothing. That however is not for lack of trying. A bill introduced in 2015 saw fit to introduce medical marijuana legislation to the state. Unfortunately, the vote was delayed until 2016. This gave opportunity for the bills biggest opponents, Governor Pete Ricketts and Attorney General Doug Peterson to counteract its progress. The bill ultimately failed after a filibuster prevented it from gaining votes it needed in 2016.
Today, Nebraska is faced with the same position many other states are in. That of citizen groups pushing the wheels of change. Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana are collecting signatures to send a constitutional medical marijuana initiative to ballot in November. This campaign was suspended due to the stay at home COVID-19 measures, however, it has since resumed with social distancing measures in place. By the deadline of July 8, 130,000 signatures are needed. Should they receive the required signatures, and the ballot measure is passed, qualifying patients would be allowed to grow, purchase and possess medical marijuana.
Weed History Of Nebraska
As touched on earlier, through Nebraska grows wild marijuana. This wild marijuana is known colloquially as ditch weed, and grows throughout the state. Despite its name, the plants are descendent from industrial hemp and likely contain very little THC. An interesting juxtaposition to the state spending over $10 million on enforcing marijuana laws in 2016.
Nebraska was also part of a 2014 coalition that sued the state of Colorado. Oklahoma and Nebraska alleged that Colorado’s legalization efforts undermined the other states laws, and placed stress on their judicial systems. The lawsuit was eventually dropped.
Does Nebraska Want Legal Weed?
Despite the state of Nebraska’s confusing and erratic history with marijuana, much of the state supports legalization. State Senator Anna Wishart released a survey that found 77% of respondents supported legalizing medical marijuana. Of that survey, more than half identified as Republican.
The Weed Laws Of Idaho
Nebraska’s “at odds” approach to marijuana law and reform is interesting, to say the least. While much of the state seems set to embrace the future of legalization, the recent actions of the political branches of Nebraska speak to other designs. It is likely that ballot initiatives can carry the state forward into the realms of medicinal, and come November that will be determined. But, recreational legalization still seems to be out of reach, and is likely to remain that way into the foreseeable future.