Ben Marksmeier of Wisner lost a leg in a roadside bombing in Iraq while serving with the Nebraska National Guard in 2006. Marksmeier says he was prescribed and used other opiate medications in the past but has better pain control with medical marijuana.
“Most people smoke to get high and get lazy and just sit on the couch,” Marksmeier says. “Me, when I smoke and use medical marijuana, I am up. I’m doing the dishes. I’m vacuuming. I’m going outside and cleaning up the lawn, scooping snow. And guess what? I’m so happy, I’m doing the neighbor’s lawn.”
Marksmeier, who was a member of the 189th Transportation Company based in Norfolk, is supporting a bill to legalize cannabis for medical use in Nebraska.
Marksmeier was joined at a recent Norfolk news conference by state Senator Tommy Garrett, of Bellevue, who calls himself a conservative. He opposes abortion, supports gun rights and wants to lower taxes. But Garrett also wants Nebraska to join the growing number of states that allow the use of cannabis oil for a list of medical ailments.
Garrett says marijuana is more effective for a variety of conditions than many FDA-approved drugs, and it has fewer side effects.
“More people in America now die of prescription drug overdoses than in car accidents,” Garrett says. “22 veterans commit suicide every day. While America deals with its self-inflicted opioid and heroin crisis, why not grant veterans who suffer from PTSD and incurable pain the ability to use cannabis, a drug no one has ever overdosed from.”
Garrett is drawing attention to his bill, LB643, which was approved on the first reading earlier this year, then bracketed and carried over to next year’s legislative session.
Nebraskans with chronic medical conditions like seizure disorders and Crohn’s Disease should not have to become “medical refugees” to get appropriate treatment, according to Garrett.
Dan and Jan Harrison of Norfolk back Garrett’s bill, saying medical marijuana would help their daughter, Nicolette Geiger, to deal with the extreme nausea caused by the drugs she must take to control her Crohn’s Disease.
Another supporter, Shari Lawlor of Valley, believes cannabis oil, which is readily available just over the border in Colorado, could significantly reduce the daily seizures suffered by her adult daughter, Brooke.
“We can’t have that choice because we live in a state where there is a line on a map dividing us and if we bring anything back, even for the health of our children, if you have young children, CPS (Child Protective Services) could be called in,” Lawlor says. “Why would I risk doing that?”
Lawlor says her daughter has seizures every day, in spite of taking nearly $35,000 worth of medication each year.
Senator Garrett, meanwhile, says he’d oppose any effort to legalize marijuana for recreational use, saying, “We don’t need another intoxicant.”
By Susan Risinger, WJAG, Norfolk