Although some Republican states, such as Montana and Alaska, have lifted bans in recent years, most of those that have legalized recreational use are still leaning toward Democrats in state and national elections. It was the second time in two years that an initiative to legalize medical marijuana failed to qualify for the Nebraska general election. The Secretary of State`s office said the two petitions submitted were unsuccessful. A petition to legalize marijuana garnered 77,843 signatures and qualified in 26 counties. An accompanying petition to introduce medical marijuana regulation submitted 77,119 valid signatures and qualified in 27 counties. As of February, 37 states, three territories and the District of Columbia had legalized the use of cannabis as a medicine, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. These include the neighboring states of Colorado, South Dakota and Missouri. Iowa and Wyoming have legalized low-dose cannabis and CBD-based medical devices. In 2013 and 2014, after neighboring Colorado legalized marijuana use, Nebraska`s marijuana arrest rate increased by 11 percent. The amount spent by Nebraska to enforce its marijuana laws also increased by 11% (to about $10.2 million). Most of the increase in arrests and enforcement expenses took place in western Nebraska (the “Nebraska Panhandle”) near the Colorado border and particularly along Interstate 80, which runs through the entire state. Experts expressed uncertainty about whether the increase was caused by Colorado`s law change, increased enforcement by the Nebraska Police Department, or a combination of factors.
 Efforts this summer in Nebraska to put the legalization of medical marijuana on the November 8 ballot failed to obtain the required signatures. Democratic Senator Jen Day said at the time that she would introduce a bill to legalize medical marijuana during the 2023 legislature, and Crista Eggers, who coordinated the medical marijuana initiative, said supporters would discuss legalizing medical and recreational cannabis. LINCOLN — The next petition campaign to legalize medical marijuana could include allowing recreational use, a Nebraska for Medical Marijuana official said Monday. It seems like a long road. State lawmakers have failed to bring forward proposals to legalize medical cannabis, and Gov. Pete Ricketts — who leaves office in January due to term restrictions — is a staunch opponent of legalization. Referendums to legalize recreational marijuana use will be held Nov. 8 in Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, South Dakota and North Dakota. If approved, these states would join 19 other states and the District of Columbia in enabling the use of jurisdictions that make up about 44 percent of the U.S. population. Congressional efforts to legalize marijuana under federal law have stalled in the U.S.
Senate despite widespread popularity. Former critic of U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper, a Democrat who was governor of Colorado when the vote passed, said this month that his concerns never materialized. When put on the ballot, marijuana legalization measures are usually passed, though often by relatively small margins. Cannabis is completely illegal in Nebraska, but the first offense of possession of small amounts was reduced to a civil violation in 1979. Testimony from Nebraska prosecutors and local law enforcement before the Nebraska Judiciary Committee in 2014 showed that different counties in Nebraska react to marijuana markedly differently. Some district attorneys and sheriffs take an approach that emphasizes strict enforcement, while others take an approach that dismisses prosecution for minor offenses.  Nebraska`s office of the secretary of state said Monday that two petitions filed by Nebraska for medical marijuana failed to collect the necessary valid signatures from 86,776 voters and did not meet another requirement — at least 5 percent of registered voters in 38 of the state`s 93 counties for their two petitions. Whatever the outcome, the momentum toward more legalization is expected to continue, Kilmer said. There is no medical marijuana program or other patient allowances in Nebraska.
“I`m damn sure now that in terms of almost every measure, this is such a good societal decision as the one I grew up in, and it`s going to have a big impact,” Hickenlooper said at an event commemorating the 10th anniversary of the state`s legalization. Locations in Canada, for example, allow sales only through state-owned stores, allowing the government to set prices and tightly control over products and available potencies. “It doesn`t matter what happens on November 8,” Kilmer said. “You`re always going to see a push for it in other states over time.” Crista Eggers of Gretna told 6 News she was devastated by the news. Her son Colton suffers from uncontrollable epileptic seizures, and she says medical cannabis would have been a treatment that has fewer side effects than current drug cocktails. Recreational marijuana is allowed in 19 states, two territories and the District of Columbia.