Nebraska medical marijuana bill flails at judiciary committee hearing

No one spoke in favor of the bill on Wednesday to the state's judiciary committee. Here's why.
Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 7:39 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - The medical cannabis bill is dead on arrival.

First off, it’s from State Sen. Mike Groene, who resigned earlier this week. Secondly, no one spoke in favor of it Wednesday at the Capitol.

The only reason it got a hearing at all is because State Sen. Anna Wishart of Lincoln, one of the most vocal medical marijuana supports in the Legislature, picked up the bill — not that she likes it, but because she wanted to give people who had circled this date to still have a chance at addressing the Judiciary Committee.

Dominic Gillen and his son, Will, are in their ninth year going before a legislative committee, urging support for medical cannabis.

“In essence, he’s ground zero,” Gillen said.

First off, it’s from State Sen. Mike Groene, who resigned earlier this week. Secondly, no one spoke in favor of it Wednesday at the Capitol.

Will cannot talk. His Bellevue family believes medical marijuana could limit his hundreds of epileptic seizures a day and improve his quality of life.

“He had a bad accident last week at school,” Dominic Gillen said. “He fell from a seizure and broke his jaw in three places, and messed up all his teeth.”

Crista Eggers of Gretna brought her 7-year-old son, Colton, who also suffers from uncontrollable seizures to a hearing for the first time Wednesday.

“His most recent EEG showed that he experienced 27 seizures in just 45 minutes. That means while I’ve been in the room, Colton has seized at least 50 times,” Eggers said. “A bill like this is a slap in the face — dangling something in the faces of those suffering.”

The families chastised those who brought up a bill about medical cannabis when it doesn’t include any way to grow it. They say the point was to be a distraction to the petition drive underway to put medical marijuana on the November ballot.

That said, a number of speakers on Wednesday told lawmakers why Nebraska should stay away from the issue altogether.

“Legalizing marijuana for any purpose including medicinal use poses risk to those the health and safety of Nebraska residents,” said Dr. Gary Anthone, Nebraska’s chief medical officer.

Margaret Wall said that, what she fears is happening with a bill like this “is we are legalizing addiction here in the state of Nebraska.”

Nebraska State Patrol Col. John Bolduc told the committee he won’t support medical marijuana without backing on the matter from the FDA.

“I’ve been very consistent in my four years coming here. Without the FDA, law enforcement is not going to get behind marijuana or THC as a medicine. I don’t see it happening.”

The bottom line: Many of the families hope this is the last time they have to go to a hearing.

Former Sen. Groene told 6 News last week that he planned to scrap this bill for something with more substance, but he resigned before that happened.

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