Nebraska could become the hemp capital of America if Republican candidate Krystal Gabel becomes the next governor of the Cornhusker State.
Gabel — a resident of Omaha — has pledged to usher in major marijuana reforms in the midwest state if she wins the 2018 gubernatorial election. Her campaign promises include decriminalizing marijuana, pardoning non-violent cannabis offenders and legalizing medical marijuana as well as industrial hemp production.
If Nebraska embraced hemp legalization, it could become "the country's primary manufacturer of hemp bioethanol and biodiesel," Gabel said, adding that the crop could "generate billions in property, sales and income taxes via industrial hemp production."
Gabel isn't a newcomer to the issue. She has advocated for marijuana reform for years, and she's the volunteer coordinator, petitioner and notary for the Nebraska chapter of the Legal Marijuana Now Party.
Before making forward with marijuana reform, she would have to defeat Governor Pete Ricketts for the Republican nomination. And cannabis could help her drive a wedge between Governor Ricketts and the electorate. Polls show that 60 percent of Nebraskans support medical marijuana, but Governor Ricketts refuses to consider legalizing it unless the FDA recognizes cannabis as medicine. That stance gives Gabel the opportunity to rally those pro-marijuana voters against Ricketts.
But even if she doesn't defeat Ricketts, her campaign would still be a win for the legalization movement by spurring the cannabis conversation in Nebraska — one of the most unfriendly states for marijuana reform. State lawmakers actually tried to overturn recreational marijuana legalization in Colorado by suing their neighboring state in a case that was ultimately thrown out by the Supreme Court in 2016. So the fact that Nebraska is even considering legalization less than two years afterward is a sign of the great progress that the legalization movement is making across the country.