A bill was introduced to the Nebraska Legislature to legalize medical marijuana use on Jan. 10, 2019 – LB110: Adopt the Medical Cannabis Act.
The bill, “adopts the medical cannabis act and provides all regulatory framework to establish access to cannabis for medical purposes.”
According to the Omaha World-Herald reporting on Jan. 26, 2019, a legislative hearing was held on Jan. 25 to debate the bill.
State Sen. Anna Wishart of Lincoln introduced the bill saying, “she did so ‘on behalf of the countless Nebraskans’ who have contacted her about legalizing medical cannabis.”
This bill would allow Nebraskans with certain medical conditions certified by a healthcare provider to use cannabis.
Wishart said, “It is a very safe, regulated, humane medical cannabis system.”
Gov. Pete Ricketts opposed the legalization of marijuana in a press release on Jan. 28, saying, “Public health depends on the integrity of our medical research process and practice, and legalizing marijuana without traditional medical trials gambles with the health and safety of the people of Nebraska.”
On the same press release, Sheri Dawson, the director of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Behavioral Health Division, also opposed it, expressing concerns for the effect of marijuana on youth.
“Cannabis can be harmful to adolescents and young adults because of its impact on their developing brains,” Dawson said.
However, many citizens at the legislative hearing supported the bill, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
Charles Birmley, a Christian conservative, said “supporting medical cannabis is the ‘right thing to do.’” He said this on behalf of his wife who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and seeks medical cannabis to address her afflictions.
Lauren Bloomquist, a College of Arts and Sciences freshman and the director of social media for Creighton College Democrats, said that she personally supports the legalization of medical marijuana.
“Thirty-three out of all 50 states have legalized the use of medical marijuana, and many others have made it available for people that urgently need it for medical conditions like epilepsy,” Bloomquist said. “I know someone who has epilepsy and his family has thought about moving or crossing state lines for treatment so he can get the medical attention he needs.”
Bloomquist said she believes medical marijuana is a safer option than most opiates for chronic pain because “it is less addicting and impossible to overdose on.”
“The main argument a lot of people stress is that legalizing medical marijuana will turn into legalizing recreational use and underage kids could get ahold of it.”
Creighton College Republicans could not be reached for comment via email.
On Wednesday, Feb. 6, Gov. Pete Ricketts spoke at the Creighton School of Law, hosted by the Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society.
He again addressed LB110, saying, “It’s not about medical marijuana. This is about an industry trying to expand its market into Nebraska.”
“There’s no major national medical organization that thinks you can effectively deliver any sort of medicine by smoking it because you can’t control the amount of dosage,” he said. “The attorney general and I are both really against this bill and legalizing marijuana in our state.”
Ricketts stressed the importance, he believes, of the Food and Drug Administration process.
“If legislators start thinking they’re doctors and smarter than doctors and start making drugs like marijuana legal, we are putting people at risk,” he said. “We’ve got all this evidence around how this is detrimental to society. That’s why we have the FDA; that process is supposed to limit those consequences. We should follow the process.”
“Today in Colorado, every two and a half days, somebody dies in a marijuana-related traffic accident,” Ricketts said. “In a Colorado Children’s Hospital study, one in six babies that come into the hospital with a respiratory illness have been exposed to marijuana smoke and that leads to THC in the blood which damages your brain, lowers your IQ and cognitive ability.”