Fahleson, when reached Thursday evening, declined to comment, other than to say a decision on whether to challenge Evnen’s decision would be made soon.
State Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln, a co-chair of Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, said he was “excited” and “grateful” for the secretary of state’s ruling.
“Having the secretary of state do an in-depth legal analysis and agree with our legal position only strengthens our position,” he said.
In a six-page letter to the two parties explaining his ruling, Evnen used terms like “close question” more than once and admitted that having to conduct a comprehensive legal analysis in one day was not ideal.
The group supporting medical cannabis had collected well over the 122,275 valid signatures needed to put the issue on the ballot, but on Wednesday, Fahleson, a former chairman of the state Republican Party, asked to block the issue from the ballot.
Evnen said Thursday that it has been the long-standing practice of the Secretary of State’s Office to conduct a legal review only upon a request.
Fahleson had maintained that the ballot language was confusing and in violation of the Nebraska Constitution’s requirement that ballot issues stick to a single subject.
He also argued that the use of cannabis as a treatment for serious medical conditions was a separate subject from allowing private entities to grow marijuana for medical use and that voters might reasonably support one issue but not the other.