Pro-cannabis residents of Nebraska who don't want to vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton, Republican Donald Trump or Libertarian Gary Johnson for president might have another option. On July 22, the Marijuana Party of Nebraska made their pitch to get on the November ballot in the Cornhusker State.
In order to be added to the list of candidates in Nebraska, a party has to submit a petition with a least 5,397 signatures (1 percent of the total votes cast in the 2014 gubernatorial election). The Marijuana Party nearly doubled that by turning in about 9,000 signatures.
But the party can't celebrate just yet. First the state has to verify that the signatures are legit. If the party passes that obstacle, presidential candidate Dan Vacek of Minnesota and VP candidate Mark Elworth, Jr. will appear on the ballot. Early this year, Elworth told his Facebook followers that he and Vacek hoped to get on the ballot in Minnesota, Iowa and Colorado as well as Nebraska.
Both are entering the race hoping to increase voter turnout rather than play spoiler for the main presidential contenders. “We’re not looking to take votes away from Donald or Hillary,” Vacek told The Omaha World-Herald. “We want to get new voters.”
And they're not the only cannabis political parties clamoring to get attention. Here are a few others from around the world.
Nowadays you could say that the Liberal Party of Canada is the de facto cannabis political party since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged to legalize recreational marijuana. But before the Grits took on cannabis reform, the Marijuana Party of Canada owned the issue.
Founded in the year 2000, the party's platform centers on ending prohibition in Canada and around the globe by pressuring other countries to reform their marijuana laws. They also stand for electoral reforms that would broaden representation in Canada's parliament.
But unlike the Liberals, the Marijuana Party argues that truly legalizing marijuana requires a complete overhaul of Canadian society.
"Talking about 'legalizing marijuana' without addressing the plutocracy problem is merely more bullshit," party leader Blair T. Longley wrote in 2015. "Stopping cannabis being criminalized should focus on HOW and WHY it was made criminal in the first place, which was due to the historical triumphs of fascist plutocracy. (The various other mainstream opinions about 'legalizing marijuana' were based on superficial and silly views of society.) Marijuana laws became integrated components of our whole civilization, which is all based on huge lies, backed by violence, operating organized frauds and robberies, in every possible way."
The most titillating merger in the history of politics happened in Australia last May when two fringe groups announced the creation of the Sex/Marijuana Party. Basically, the Sex Party and the Hemp Party decided to band together to shore up the fringe vote in hopes of winning more seats in this summer's federal election.
The Hemp party was founded in 1993 to combat marijuana prohibition. Their goal is not only to make marijuana legal but to also make it more socially acceptable than alcohol.
"If marijuana were to replace alcohol as the major social tonic in society, there would be less aggression on the streets, lower road tolls, less domestic violence, better sleeping patterns, more creative work output and less vomit on the streets," party spokesman Andrew Kavasilas told The Guardian.
The Sex Party was founded in 2009 to fight censorship and advocate on behalf of the sex industry. They've since branched out into advocating for marriage equality, prison reform and cannabis legalization. And that last issue has gained traction recently but politicians are still nervous about standing up for marijuana reform.
"Privately, I get a lot of support in parliament but they're all too risk averse, they're all scared," Fiona Patten -- a Sex Party member of parliament -- told The Guardian. "I'm not a conspiracy theorist but if you were to legalise it, you may put a dent in big pharma, you may put dent in the alcohol industry, so I worry if there's pressure for those industries to stop the tide."
Founded in 2009, the Cannabis Sans Frontières (Cannabis Without Borders) party is a bit more out there than the other groups in this list -- even the Sex Party. On top of advocating for the repeal of cannabis prohibition and pardons for people convicted of minor marijuana offences, the party also appears to support therapeutic uses of cocaine and LSD.
That's what we learned from reading a translated Wikipedia page, so take that intel with a few grains of salt. But their site (again, translated) does criticize coca leaf prohibition and promotes discussion of LSD's therapeutic uses.
They also help organize the annual Million Marijuana March in France. And if you haven't seen it -- or heard Francophone reggae -- check out this video.