Medical marijuana debate back in front of Nebraska senators

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 4:51 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The debate over medical marijuana will soon go back before Nebraska state senators.

It appeared a vote by the people would decide the matter last November, but the Nebraska Supreme Court stepped in.

Opponents of medical marijuana fear it will open the door to laws for full-scale use and hurt young people. Supporters offered their own warning that it’s just a matter of time before that happens.

“The people spoke, we should not have to do this again,” said Trish Petersen, Nebraska Families for Medical Cannabis.

Last year — during a pandemic — 196,000 Nebraskans signed a petition to let the people decide whether the state should have medical cannabis by a vote. It seemed like a major victory for supporters until weeks later, for a reason many still don’t understand, the Nebraska Supreme Court pulled it from the ballot.

“Forty-seven states have enacted some sort of cannabis legislation; but for seven years, Nebraska has failed. When the people took charge and petitioned their government, their government moved the goal line and redrew the end zone,” said Nicole Hochstein, whose son, Jayen, has epilepsy.

She worries about his quality of life.

So do those who love Colton Eggers, who relies on pill after pill to treat his epilepsy, when many many children in other states have the option to use medical marijuana.

“We’re not saying medical cannabis will be a cure for him, but we want the option and to have doctors help us through that,” Dominic Gillen said.

If the plan doesn’t work, supporters will go back to plan B.

“Let me be clear: If this bill does not pass, we will not give up. We will be back in 2022 with a one-sentence ballot initiative to legalize cannabis for medical purposes,” State Sen. Anna Wishart said.

The bill to legalize medical cannabis, LB 474, will go before the judiciary committee on March 10.

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