Medical marijuana debate returns to Nebraska

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, Tom Osborne, and others speak against medical marijuana legalization Wednesday, March 10, 2021.
Published: Mar. 10, 2021 at 7:38 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Dozens of Nebraskans on Wednesday tried to speak for nearly 200,000 who had their voices on medical marijuana silenced by the courts last year.

The issue is once again before state lawmakers, and many supporters say lawmakers continue to be on the wrong side of history.

Medical cannabis supporters gathered — for the fifth year in a row — outside the judiciary committee at the Nebraska State Capitol to express their frustration. Only a handful of them are allowed inside because of social distancing rules.

“The fact that we have to be here again, to debate the lives of those suffering of individuals in Nebraska, is absolutely absurd,” said Crista Eggers, whose son, Colton, suffers from a severe form of epilepsy. She said repeated, incontrollable seizures are killing him, and that medical cannabis could help.

The Gretna mom helped collect more than 190,000 signatures in an attempt to get it on the ballot last year.

Medical marijuana is once again before Nebraska lawmakers, and many supporters say lawmakers continue to be on the wrong side of history.

“Had it not been for a last-minute lawsuit — and the (state) Supreme Court — our initiative would have passed by a vote of the people,” said State Sen. Anna Wishart of Lincoln.

A half-hour earlier, opponents — including Gov. Pete Ricketts and former Husker football coach Tom Osborne — stood in the Capitol rotunda.

“This is a dangerous drug that will impact kids,” the governor said. “If you legalize marijuana, you’re going to kill your kids.”

Ahead of a Unicameral hearing on medical marijuana on Wednesday, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said "if you legalize marijuana, you're going to kill your kids."

Osborne, a Nebraska football coaching legend who also served three terms as a state Congressman, reminded everyone why he thinks it’s a bad idea.

“Having a medical professional say you qualify for medical marijuana — maybe you are a little depressed, have a headache or sore shoulder, whatever it is — it will be really easy to get it,” he said.

Former Husker lineman Grant Wistrom, one of Osborne’s star players from the 1990s who earned three national championships and a Super Bowl ring, told state senators why he thinks Coach is wrong — and that Nebraskans could benefit from legalizing medical cannabis.

“Medical marijuana has drastically improved my quality of life — reduced my pain, and allowed me to live a normal life,” Wistrom said. “I’ve seen firsthand how this has been lifesaving. Its benefits far outweighs any potential risks.”

Time will tell if the bill will have the support of the Nebraska legislature if it gets out of committee; several families worry they haven’t changed enough minds in the Unicameral. If not, they vow to get it on the ballot for November 2022.

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