After weeks of problems and the clock ticking, the group looking to legalize medical marijuana in Nebraska later this year says their petition drive is gaining traction.

According to Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, they now have 80,000 signatures, double what they had two weeks ago.

It will take roughly 87,000 valid signatures by July 7 to make the November ballot.

Experts always recommend getting significantly more names than required, as many will be thrown out for not meeting any number of legal requirements.

Along with those 87,000 signatures, the Nebraska Constitution mandates the names come from at least 5% of registered voters in 38 of the state’s 93 counties — a rule that prevents groups from only collecting signatures in larger cities.

NMM says it has hit that requirement in 15 counties.

At the same time, NMM is challenging the 5 percent rule in federal court, arguing it gives unfair political power to Nebraska’s smallest counties. They argue that, for signature-gathering purposes, one voter in sparsely populated Arthur County has about as much power as 1,200 voters in Douglas County, which includes Omaha.

For months the group only used volunteers to get signatures but as that strategy was failing they’ve gone to paid petition circulators as well and, according to NMM,  in the last two weeks they’ve raised $50,000 and have more than 100 paid circulators crisscrossing the state.

NMM came close to placing the issue on the November 2020 ballot, announcing that it had met all signature requirements, but the state Supreme Court prevented it from going to voters on technical grounds.

Gov. Pete Ricketts has been leading the charge against medical marijuana in Nebraska.