State legislators return to the Capitol today and likely return to debate about a bill that would legalize medical marijuana.
Sen. Tommy Garrett of Bellevue has made an impassioned plea on behalf of his bill, LB 643, to legalize using marijuana to relieve pain due to medical conditions.
“Please, please, please don’t sit and sulk and become a victim of the “Reefer Madness” mentality that has been fomented by our opponents,” Garrett told colleagues opening legislative debate last week. “Stand and fight.”
Garrett made reference to a 1936 film that he said greatly exaggerated the effects of marijuana on individuals and society. [Click here to see the trailer.]
Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha questioned Garrett about the reference.
“Are you saying then, Sen. Garrett, that you think that concerns about your legislation are baseless?” McCoy asked Garrett during debate.
“No, I’m not saying that at all,” Garrett responded. “I’m saying that I think medical marijuana has demonstrated medical efficacy and we want to control this. We don’t want to be like Colorado and California. We need to bring help to sick and ailing Nebraskans and we want to do this via this law.”
Yet, Garrett must overcome skeptical senators, such as Sen. Mike Gloor of Grand Island who stated LB 643 could create several unintended consequences and questioned whether it has been fully vetted.
“We have a ways to go before I think this bill is ready for prime time,” Gloor stated.
LB 643 is modeled after Minnesota law, enacted last year. 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.
The Unicameral likely will return to the medical marijuana debate today, a debate which could well take much of the legislative day.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]