Medical marijuana, right for Nebraska?

Posted at 10:52 PM, Feb 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-09 00:22:56-05

Medical marijuana was a red hot topic in the Nebraska legislature last year and it ultimately failed. The debate has re-ignited again this year and with some new firepower. 

A stronger effort to legalize medical marijuana based on Minnesota's law is now underway in the unicameral.

Nebraska's proposed bill is almost identical to Minnesota's law. They have a very strict allowance of medical marijuana in the forms of pills, oils and vapor but not for smoking to treat certain aliments like cancer, epilepsy and seizures.

KMTV exclusively went to LeafLine Labs to take you to the medical marijuana operation.

"The medicine that we produce-80-percent of it will not get you high, it will get you well but it's not recreational," said CEO of LeafLine Lans, Manny Munson-Regala, "There's a lot of people we can be helping".

In one of the rooms are over 400 marijuana plants all clones to make sure they put out the same product. The plants are given 24 hours of light in a warm room, Munson-Regala says to emulate a perfect summer for maximum growing conditions.

"We are told what we can sell, we are told who we can sell it to, so far we are not told how much we can sell it for," said Munson-Regala.

The Minnesota medical marijuana law passed in May of 2014. Under state law, two distributors were chosen by December of that year. LeafLine Labs was one of them and prescribing medicine by July 1st.

That medicine in Minnesota is in the forms of pills, oils and vapor .

There's a second facility down the road where the patients go. The rooms look like a doctors office but there's a few differences. There's ballistic glass and re-inforced sheetrock.

"People should come here and feel safe and secure," said Munson-Regala.

According to Minnesota Department of Health, there's over 900 patients getting medical cannabis treatments with 500 certified health care practitioners in 7 months of business.

In Nebraska this isn't reality just yet. Senator Tommy Garrett toured the exact same facility last October seeing if this is what Nebraska needs.

"I'm just trying to get through to my colleagues-it's medicine we're not looking to get recreational here to help people who are sick an ailing," said Garrett.

"My son and others like him who are sick and suffering deserve compassion," said mother Shelly Gillen.

These are the Nebraskans Sen. Garrett said he's trying to help.

Mother Sheri Lawlor said medical marijuana could be her daugher Brooke's last hope.

"We are out of options other than brain surgery," said Lawlor.

But some aren't quick to sign on, other senators said allowing medical marijuana will open the flood gates to more problems like recreational marijuana use.

"I'm concerned how this is going to be regulated," said Sen. Hilkeman.

Opponents have lobbied hard at the Capitol to make sure senators weigh the options before allowing medical marijuana in the state.

"I hope the people of Nebraska can make an informed decision based on some facts than just a hope of a miracle," said Thornton Police Sgt. James Gerhardt.

"I'm just concerned about Nebraska starting another whole program," said Hilkeman.

Munson-Regala keeps a close eye on what happens here in Nebraska because he has a dog in this fight, "Going down to Lincoln, and talking to folks down there, they felt like folks I know; my neighbors. That helps a lot when you are thinking about expansion".

Under this bill, Nebraska would only have three distributors, one in each congressional district. Medicinal marijuana would only come in pill or oil form.

Sen. Garrett hopes to have a hearing on the bill later in February. However if it passes Governor Pete Ricketts said he would veto the bill.

23 states and DC have some form of medical marijuana laws in place.