Nebraska lawmakers fail to advance medical marijuana bill

Measure falls 2 votes short
Posted at 6:43 PM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 19:43:33-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — After a filibuster, state lawmakers failed to advance a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in Nebraska. It fell two votes short.

The bill only allows marijuana to be used in pills, tinctures, oils, ointments, or a concentrate. It does not allow Nebraskans to smoke or eat marijuana in food.

It also only allows pot use for a variety of ailments including epilepsy, cancer, autism, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Parkinson’s disease, severe pain, and serious medical conditions that cause nausea.

“There are families, there are children and there are Nebraskans that are suffering. We should legalize marijuana, medical marijuana, because that’s what Nebraskans overwhelmingly believe we should do,” says State Senator Adam Morfeld, who led the ballot initiative in 2020 that the Nebraska Supreme Court took off the ballot last fall.

Looming over the debate in the legislature was a possible ballot initiative in 2022 that would seek to legalize medical marijuana into the state constitution.

Several senators pointed to the highly regulated medical marijuana bill from Senator Anna Wishart as something much more restrictive than what voters would likely pass.

“We have an opportunity to have some control over what happens with medical marijuana," said Setate Sen. Steve Lathrop.

As expected there was push back, with some worried about kids using it.

“I cannot comfortably say yes to something like this, not knowing if we might do harm to a child,” said Joni Albrecht, a state senator from northeast Nebraska.

Others are concerned about the high THC amounts in modern-day pot.

“What we’re talking about now with this bill is an unlimited, uncapped THC level,” said State Senator Suzanne Geist of Lincoln.

The most common argument against the bill was a legal one, that marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug, and therefore banned on a federal level.

“We have never approved a substance that you can put into your body, we’ve always relied on the FDA,” says Senator Curt Friesen.

Wishart, who has vowed to bring a ballot initiative if her bill fails, said Nebraskans are crossing borders illegally, just to get the medicine they need.

“People are already doing this. They are already using cannabis, illegally,” said Wishart.

It’s unclear exactly what the 2022 ballot initiative would look like, but it appears possible advocates will also seek to legalize recreational marijuana.