Pubdate: Thu, 02 Jun 2011
Source: Omaha World-Herald (NE)
Copyright: 2011 Omaha World-Herald Company
Author: Martha Stoddard, World-Herald Bureau


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

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

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

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

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

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.
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.