Neb Supreme Court Throws Out Medical Pot Initiative, OKs Gambling Initiatives

Nebraska voters won’t get the chance to vote on an initiative legalizing medical marijuana this year but they will see 3 measures for casino gambling in the state.

      By identical 4-3 margins, the state Supreme Court ruled that the medical pot measure set to appear on the November ballot is unconstitutional while the gambling initiatives do meet constitutional requirements. 

       The Supreme Court rulings are a split decision for win for social conservatives, including Gov. Pete Ricketts, who opposed all the proposals.

       Secretary of State Bob Evnan, the state’s top election official, had recently reached the opposite conclusion and ruled that the pot proposal was constitutional and the casino gambling measures were not. 

     Gambling supporters and medical pot opponents challenged both rulings in court and in a statement issued after the high court decisions noted the 4-3 votes and said he appreciated the court’s consideration of his positions on them.

      The justices concluded that the medical marijuana proposal violated Nebraska’s “single subject rule” for ballot measures, which bars activists from bunching multiple issues into a single yes-or-no question for voters to address. 

      On the casino gambling issue, they disagreed with Evnan that the language was too vague and confusing to give voters a clear understanding of the potential impacts of passing the measures.

       One is a constitutional amendment allowing casino gambling at licensed horse racing tracks, one sets up a gaming commission to oversee gambling in the state, and the third taxes gambling revenue and sets a formula for dividing it, with 75% going for property tax relief.