Nebraska Considering MMJ Bill


Nebraska has been none too pleased over marijuana legalization in Colorado. People smuggle Coloradan cannabis into the state every day, draining local law enforcement resources. Nebraska, along with Oklahoma, has even taken to suing Colorado over the issue.

However, the state can’t be too adverse to the idea of marijuana legalization as evidenced by a medical marijuana bill that has just been introduced to the state legislature.

Dubbed The Cannabis Compassion and Care Act, Legislative Bill 643 would legalize medical marijuana for patients with debilitating diseases such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS and hepatitis C. Patients would be able to possess up to six ounces of marijuana and 12 plants.

Speaking with KETV Omaha, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Tommy Garrett, highlighted those who would benefit from the bill.

“There are children and adults in our communities with diagnosed debilitating medical conditions who will benefit from the inclusion of medical cannabis as a treatment option,” Garrettt said. “Such treatment would be tightly controlled and could only be prescribed by a licensed physician.”

Under LB 643, the state Department of Health and Human Services would create a registry and issue ID cards for all registered patients and caregivers. The bill would also create non-profit “Compassion Centers” which would grow and sell medical marijuana.

In addition to protecting medical marijuana patients from arrest, LB 643 would protect patient employment rights provided they were not using medical marijuana during or before work. There is no mention in the proposed legislation about quality control or laboratory testing.

One has to wonder, if this bill passes will it help alleviate some of the burden placed on Nebraska law enforcement? Many of those that have been crossing over the Nebraska border into Colorado have been seeking medical marijuana.

Professor of pharmacy at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Ally Dering-Anderson, told NPR Nebraska that she estimates that roughly between 10 and 20 percent of Nebraskans have tried marijuana for medicinal use.

“We don’t do a fabulous job of treating pain,” Dering-Anderson said. “I think that has led some people to attempt to treat pain with this group of chemicals.” The chemicals Dering-Anderson is referring to are, of course, the chemical compounds in marijuana—THC and CBD, among others.

Regardless of the state, any medical marijuana bill is bound to face stiff opposition in a state legislature. Without polling numbers, it is difficult to tell which way the wind may blow in the Cornhusker state.

We do know that a slim majority of Americans support full legalization, and that most see legalization as inevitable, but does that mean anything in Nebraska? Only time will tell if medical marijuana is accepted in Nebraska, but for now we have one more state to add to our watch list in 2015.

William Sumner, a freelance writer and marijuana journalist, was a staff writer for MJINews from May 2014 through February 2018. You can follow him on Twitter @W_Sumner.

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