An organizer behind a bid to get a medical cannabis proposal on the Nebraska ballot this year says the campaign is in dire need of financial support as it nears a summer deadline to submit a petition to the state.
Crista Eggers, who is leading the petition effort for Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, said this week that the campaign is running short on money.
“I’d say devastating is an understatement,” Eggers told local television station WOWT. “We’re pleading with you to help.”
Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana announced its plans to circulate a petition to get a pair of medical cannabis proposals on the ballot last September: one initiative would require the state legislature to to pass laws protecting physicians who recommend medical cannabis treatment and patients who use it; the other would charge the legislature to establish regulations for the medical cannabis program.
In the announcement, Eggers lamented that her young son Colton, who suffers from epilepsy, is unable to receive the treatment in the state.
“We’ve received so much encouragement from individuals all across the state, who support the many patients like our son Colton, who desperately need access to this medicine. No matter what your political background is, we should all agree that criminalizing a medicine that has the potential to alleviate suffering, is both cruel and inhumane,” Eggers said at the time. “The current policy doesn’t reflect our family values here in Nebraska, and we’re going to change that. We need everyone who believes in compassion for suffering individuals like my son to be part of this movement and help us win in 2022.”
But the campaign was dealt a tragic setback last month when a major donor died in a plane crash. The campaign said that another donor who was expected to contribute had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
The grim news has left Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana reeling. Democratic state Sen. Anna Wishart, a co-sponsor of the Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, said last month that she was confident that the group could still reach a $500,000 fundraising goal by its deadline of May 1.
She didn’t say how much money the group had, however, and the Lincoln Journal-Star reported last month that ““the campaign had a cash balance that was less than $30,000” as of February 28.
The Nebraska group needs to gather a minimum of 87,000 valid circumstances by July 7 in order for each initiative to qualify for the ballot. Last month, Wishart said each petition had around 25,000 signatures.
The campaign did not sugarcoat its financial circumstances this week. WOWT reported that “Eggers worries that if a group of donors doesn’t come forward in the next week and inject the campaign with a million dollars to hire professional signature collectors, she’ll be forced to move to a state where her son, Colton, who suffers from uncontrollable seizures, is able to get medical cannabis.”
“Every night I tell my child and others that we will get this done. And to think that we’re falling short, I don’t know what that means. For my family, it means splitting apart. Take one of my children to another state and leave another here. That’s not fair,” she told the station.
“If what we needed was grit, and drive, and determination, we have that,” Eggers added. “Our campaign would be done and over if that’s what we needed. But unfortunately, the one thing our campaign doesn’t have – and has to have – is money.”
This year was supposed to be a shot at redemption for Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, which tried to push a medical cannabis initiative in 2020 until the state Supreme Court blocked it from the ballot.