Protestors in favor of legalizing medical marijuana lined up on the sidewalk in front of Walgreens in Blair on Wednesday to collect signatures for political party Legal Marijuana Now (LMN) to be included on the general election ballot in Nebraska.
The protest was spearheaded by Omaha native Krystal Gabel, 32, who is also seeking to unseat Gov. Pete Ricketts in the 2018 gubernatorial race.
"We need a person in office who will talk to the people," Gabel said. "Once we get an empathetic leader in office who isn't just leading, but listening as well, we're going to have money diverted the way it needs to be diverted."
Gabel was joined by Mark Elworth, Jr., another member of the LMN party, as well as a small number of protestors who agree with Gabel's viewpoints.
Gabel said this is the second time the group has visited Washington County, and that they have garnered a lot of attention from the area.
While the protest's main purpose was to increase the number of signatures on their petition, an emphasis was also placed on getting the conversation started about medical marijuana and hemp production — two industries Gabel believes Nebraska desperately needs to support.
"I really believe in these issues," she said. "Nebraska is behind economically. We could really benefit from hemp and help a lot of people medically. We don't even have an option for people to choose cannabis as their treatment plan."
This is the second time Gabel's camp has pulled together to gain signatures for their inclusion on the ballot. Last year, LMN supporters collected nearly double the required 5,400 signatures for the same petition, which Gabel says Ricketts then denied due to a lack of the signers having been registered voters.
"We didn't have enough money for a lawsuit," she said. "We're just out here recollecting."
So far, LMN has 9,000 signatures, which is 6,000 short of its total goal of 15,000. LMN needs signatures from all over the state for the petition to be valid.
"We're going for 15,000, just to be safe," Gabel said. "So that we know for sure we have ballot access and cannot be denied again."