State lawmakers again are debating whether medical marijuana should be legalized in Nebraska.
The Unicameral debated Legislative Bill 622 for a couple of hours without taking a vote on the measure. Medical marijuana bills have failed in previous legislative sessions.
Sen. Anna Wishart of Lincoln, sponsor of the latest medical marijuana bill, tells colleagues her bill has tighter restrictions than past measures in an effort to address worries about legalizing marijuana as a drug.
“The allowed delivery method for medical cannabis under our system are liquid, pill or capsule, vapor, topical creams, and suppositories,” Wishart says, reading from LB 622 during legislative floor debate. “And I want to emphasize that smoking is not included in our medical cannabis system nor are edibles, other than in the form of pills or capsules.”
Supporters of the Medical Cannabis Act argue those who suffer debilitating, long-term pain deserve the relief granted in other states which have legalized various forms of cannabis for medicinal purposes. They cite studies which suggest marijuana can be helpful to ease chronic suffering.
Yet, other studies conflict with those rosy scenarios, a point made by Sen. Mike Hilgers of Lincoln, who tells colleagues there simply isn’t enough known about the effects of using marijuana as a drug.
“This legislature, as high in regard as I hold all of you, we are not equipped to make this type of clinical decision,” Hilgers argues. “We just aren’t.”
Supporters counter the legislature might not have the final say on the issue. They suggest that if the Unicameral doesn’t approve medical marijuana, an initiative petition might form to place the issue on the ballot.
No vote has been taken on LB 622. Wishart has to convince Speaker Jim Scheer that she has the 33 votes necessary to end debate and go to a first-round vote on the bill.