A bill legalizing medical marijuana has advanced in the Unicameral.
LB 643 is patterned after the Minnesota law enacted last year that allows marijuana to be used for medicinal purposes if taken in pill or oil form or through vapor. It prohibits marijuana to be smoked.
Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins asked colleagues during legislative floor debate not to get hung up on the plant in question.
“We’re referring to this as medical marijuana. I wonder how it would be received if it were made out of corn oil?” Bloomfield asked.
The bill advanced on a 27-to-12 vote with eight senators abstaining.
Still, some senators remain skeptical.
Sen. Robert Hilkemann of Omaha said too many questions remain unanswered.
“How is it going to be regulated? What are the qualifications of the people who are going to do it?” Hilkemann asked. “This could get real messy real soon.”
Sen. Jim Scheer of Norfolk opposed the measure, arguing that medical marijuana is untested, comparing it to other drugs touted to be effective, only to fall short.
“It didn’t do what it was supposed to do and it had side-effects that were worse than the solution that it presented,” Scheer stated. “Don’t feel like we are abandoning those people who need help simply because you do not support this bill.”
Sen. Tommy Garrett of Bellevue said he sponsored the medical marijuana bill after parents pleaded with him to approve a method of pain relief for ailments resistant to conventional medication.
“Colleagues, here’s an opportunity for us in this legislature to really affect the quality of life of sick and ailing and vulnerable Nebraskans,” Garrett said in his closing on the bill. “And we can do this. We can do this. We can make a difference in the life of Nebraskans.”
Minnesota became the 22nd state to approve medicinal marijuana. The bill signed into law last year prohibited smoking marijuana.
LB 643 would guide manufacturers on production of medical marijuana and set restrictions on its use. Medical cannabis could be taken in liquid form, through vapor, or by pill. Patients would have to be certified to use medical marijuana. The Department of Health and Human Services would write specific rules and regulations.