Andrew Hemmer of Norfolk wants to see a compassionate medical marijuana system created in Nebraska.
Hemmer is the co-chairman of the petition steering committee for the Nebraskans for Sensible Marijuana Laws (NSML) organization. This group is sponsoring a petition drive seeking to gather enough signature of registered voters to place on the 2020 ballot a proposal that would amend the Nebraska Constitution to give people the right to use, possess and produce cannabis and its products for serious medical conditions as recommended by a doctor or nurse practitioner.
This cause is near to Hemmer’s heart.
Six years ago, he was diagnosed with chronic post traumatic stress disorder, which led to his use of many expensive and damaging medications.
“I spend over $600 a month in medications, therapy and treatments,” he said. “These pharmaceuticals have done a so-so job of curbing my symptoms, and they have hurt my liver and made my digestive tract unstable.”
Hemmer said he believes there should be an alternative treatment option in medical cannabis.
NSML began work in March to get enough signatures to add its proposition to the 2020 ballot.
To get onto the ballot, the group must get signatures from 10% of all registered Nebraska voters, as well as 5% of registered voters from at least 38 counties. In total, their goal is to get 150,000 people to sign the petition.
To achieve this, NSML attends many events in Nebraska, in addition coordinating calling campaigns and going door-to-door in the hopes of educating and inspiring people.
“We really want to better the community, and education is an important part of this,” Hemmer said.
The group also is focused on getting young people to register to vote.
If the proposal gets on the ballot and is approved, Hemmer said he also believes that it will reduce drug trafficking.
“This problem needs to be tackled,” he said. “With this bill, more people would go to the clinic instead of the street.”
At this point, Hemmer has helped NSML gather more than 1,000 signatures in Madison County. This is only 30 signatures short of reaching the 5% requirement for the county. There are also volunteers in 25 other counties around the state who are also collecting signatures.
Hemmer is excited about the efforts.
“I am confident that we will secure all the counties in Nebraska,” he said.
July 2020 is the deadline for all signatures to potentially qualify for constitutional referendum. Through this process, Hemmer said he hopes to introduce people to the benefits of a safe medical marijuana system.
“We have to influence education,” he said. “There’s a lot of stigma about how it’s harming communities, but it’s not the truth.”