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Group to seek legalization of recreational marijuana in Nebraska
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Group to seek legalization of recreational marijuana in Nebraska

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A group that unsuccessfully tried to get a medical marijuana initiative on the November ballot now says it's going to seek a vote on legalizing recreational marijuana.

Officials with Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana said Sunday the group will be introducing ballot language in January for "full adult use" of marijuana, including medical and recreational use.

State Sens. Anna Wishart and Adam Morfeld, both of Lincoln, said they made the decision based on the passage of a ballot measure in South Dakota that allows both medical and recreational marijuana, plus Saturday's vote to advance a legalization measure in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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"People in rural conservative areas are open-minded about not only medical marijuana but recreational use," Morfeld said.

Wishart said it just makes "common sense" to seek legalization of recreational use since two bordering states, Colorado and South Dakota, now have done that. Nebraskans, she said, could face a felony if they purchased a marijuana derivative in those states and were caught with it in Nebraska.

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She added that revenue raised from marijuana sales could be used for many purposes, including funding better mental health services and reducing property taxes. 

The senators were co-chairs of an effort to let Nebraskans vote in November on whether to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. But the initiative, despite getting enough signatures to qualify for the Nov. 3 ballot, was disqualified by the Nebraska Supreme Court, which ruled that the matter contained more than one subject.

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Gov. Pete Ricketts, along with other state leaders, vehemently opposed the medical marijuana proposal and will most assuredly fight any attempt to legalize recreational marijuana.

On Monday, Ricketts criticized plans to place an initiative on the 2022 ballot that would legalize marijuana in the state, describing that as "a bad idea that would lead to poor health outcomes."

In November, South Dakota voters approved the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, joining 14 other states. The South Dakota measure is the subject of a legal challenge.

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Journal Star reporter Don Walton contributed to this report.

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