Pubdate: Thu, 02 Jun 2011 Source: Omaha World-Herald (NE) Copyright: 2011 Omaha World-Herald Company Contact: http://www.omaha.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/320 Author: Martha Stoddard, World-Herald Bureau POT-LEGALIZATION VOTE SOUGHT LINCOLN - A McCook attorney hopes to legalize marijuana in Nebraska next year. Frank Shoemaker filed proposed language for an initiative petition Tuesday with the Nebraska secretary of state. In the filing, he said the petition would seek "to remove all laws regulating the private noncommercial use of cannabis, also known as marijuana." It would repeal all laws governing private growing, harvesting, transfer and consumption of marijuana. It also would seek to regulate and tax all commercial uses of the plant. In the filing, Shoemaker said he wants to put a proposed constitutional amendment before voters in the November 2012 election. If he succeeded - and voters approved the amendment - it would make Nebraska the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana. But it also could set up a confrontation with the federal government. When a similar voter initiative made it to the California ballot last year, federal officials warned that they would consider suing the state if the measure passed. They also said they would not stop enforcing laws making marijuana possession and sales illegal. In addition, the measure faced stiff opposition from law enforcement, state officials and groups concerned about drug use. California voters rejected the initiative. Shoemaker could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. Ralph Smith, a Louisville, Neb., attorney involved with the pro-medicinal pot group Patients Out of Time, said he has explored the possibility of a petition drive to legalize marijuana for medicinal use but is not involved with Shoemaker's effort. He said his concern is for patients who might benefit from marijuana, and he believes the chances of success for a more limited legalization are better. "People are less likely to wholesale want to legalize it," Smith said. Medicinal marijuana is legal in 16 states, including Colorado, as well as in the District of Columbia. The Iowa Board of Pharmacy recommended last year that marijuana be legalized for medical use, but the issue stalled. Last July, proponents of medical marijuana packed a hearing room in Lincoln and told the Nebraska Pharmacy Board that cannabis use has several benefits. The board, however, concluded it lacked the authority to reclassify marijuana as a drug that could legally be prescribed. Filing proposed petition language is the first step in the initiative process. To get a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot requires collecting valid signatures from 10 percent of registered voters. In 2008, that number was more than 112,000 signatures. - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.