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Push in Nebraska Unicameral to legalize recreational pot; law enforcement says it's a bad idea

Posted at 6:49 PM, Feb 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-19 19:49:13-05

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — The legalization of medical marijuana was set to be on the ballot in 2020 before the Nebraska Supreme Court reversed it and took it off the ballot, saying it didn’t meet the state’s ‘one subject ‘rule.

After that, Senator Justin Wayne decided to push for full legalization of marijuana.

“Just maybe the people of Nebraska knows what’s best for them,” said Wayne.

Senator Wayne, who represents parts of North Omaha and Northeast Douglas County, wants to put recreational marijuana on the 2022 midterm election ballot.

He says Nebraskans get ticketed or arrested daily for the drug, proving that there is currently a black market.

He also says it would help the state’s economy.

“Washington has collected over $200 million in tax revenue and when Nebraska is continuing looking for new revenue sources, this is one way,” said Wayne.

Plenty of people were at the Judiciary Committee hearing to push back, including head of the Nebraska State Patrol, John Bolduc, who cited stats showing there could be an increase of crime and driving fatalities if it was legalized in Nebraska.

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine worries that pot could be addictive to young people in Nebraska.

“They said the majority of the cases they have in juvenile court right now, are, there is, marijuana is a major part of those cases,” said Kleine.

Senator Terrell McKinney spoke up several times, asking those who testified how marijuana impacts the black community.

He also compared marijuana’s side effects to alcohol, asking Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gary Anthone, the difference between the two.

“Why is alcohol legal?” asked McKinney.

“Its not a schedule one drug. And it needs to go through the FDA process, we need to follow the science here,” said Anthone.

Senator Patty Pansing-Brooks, Lincoln, responded to that saying she doesn’t know how she feels on fully legalizing the drug, but is tired of the FDA argument frequently cited by Gov. Pete Ricketts.

“We’ve been fighting this battle and fighting this battle, the FDA doesn’t want to deal with it, they don’t want to reschedule it, they just want to leave it alone, so it should be up to the states,” said Pansing-Brooks.

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