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Medical pot hearing draws praise, opposition

Posted at 9:26 PM, Jan 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-25 22:26:14-05

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — Friday proved to be an emotional and long winded day for many at the state capitol as both sides gave their arguments on making medical marijuana legal in Nebraska.

"It poses far fewer risks, than many commonly available prescriptions that patients have while more than 15,000 American die every year from opioid overdoses and Americans have also died from even over the counter painkillers. As was mentioned, nobody has ever been shown to have died from a marijuana overdose," says Karen O’Keefe with the marijuana policy project.

Advocates pointed to mostly anecdotal evidence that marijuana helps medical ailments like cancer, epilepsy and M.S.

"There's nothing that I will not do. Why should I be forced to choose between saving my child and being prosecuted. Detach yourself from the stigma for a moment that marijuana is solely used to get high," says Krista Eggers, advocate.

Opponents said we don't know the long term effects of the drug.

"It is not approved by the FDA and you go to a private for profit business which is a pot shop somewhere on the corner in your neighborhood that is selling gummies, candies and THC laced edibles, that is not medicine, but that is what medical marijuana looks like," says Luke Niforatos. Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

Nebraska is just one of 17 states that does not have a legal option for residents to use pot

Superintendent of Nebraska State Patrol John Bolduc said at the hearing and press conference beforehand, that's a good thing.

"We've seen an increase in traffic crashes and traffic fatalities in states where medical marijuana has been legalized and certainly where recreational marijuana has been legalized," says Bolduc.

Governor Pete Ricketts has already spoken out against the bill. So the political realities are this bill passing, are slim, but not impossible.

"I think it would be a very heavy lift, for that legislation to get passed," says Senator Matt Williams.

Gothenburg senator Matt Williams says he'd consider supporting the bill with amendments, such as not allowing the medical pot to be smoked.

"The limitation on THC is something else I'm very concerned with and the descriptions of the medical ailments that a doctor can diagnose," says Williams.

The bill's sponsor Anna Wishart has prioritized the bill, meaning there will be plenty more debate on medical weed in the coming weeks of the legislative session.